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Types of Students – Not All Are Learners

By Vicki Wrona, PMP:

I have trained thousands of professionals over the past 11 years and have observed a direct correlation between the different types of students and their success rate. My personal observation and the help of some past students have allowed me to label these different types.

• Vacationer: This person sees training as an opportunity to take a break from work. They tend to mentally check out once they leave the office prior to training, and are present physically but not mentally in the class. They are there for a mental break and a good time. If traveling, these people often stay out late and are therefore very tired in class. Most do not receive the organization’s intended benefit of the training, which is the application of new knowledge and skills, but often do receive their intended benefit of a vacation.

• Explorer: These students are lifelong learners and are attending class to broaden their horizons. They are interested in new learning opportunities and will listen and participate in class, absorbing any new knowledge they can get.

• Hostage: These people are in training because they are told they need it or because they have to be. They often start the class defensively and may not be open to the ideas presented. Sometimes they turn around and see the benefit of the information offered. Sometimes they do not. It is very rewarding for me when a former hostage begins to engage in the class.

• Distracted: These people physically show up to class but are not really mentally present. They are constantly checking their mobile devices, getting called out of class to settle fires, and tend to not return from breaks in a timely manner. Often, they miss more class than they attend. Sometimes this is out of their control. I understand that unavoidable issues arise at times. Sometimes those can be delegated but are not (which may be why they are in the class to begin with). However, I find that most people miss so much that they don’t receive benefit from the training and because they are haphazardly trying to address issues at work, they are not doing their best work there, either. Both the training and job performance suffer and all sides lose.

• Applier: These students actively participate and are engaged in class and work to apply the knowledge after class. I know they do this because these are the ones who follow up with me, either to let me know they passed the exam or to tell me how they applied something we discussed and practiced in class or to give me new examples or analogies to use in future classes. They demonstrate to me that they have internalized the information in some way.

The students I find most gratifying are the appliers, explorers and transformed hostages. I love the “aha” or lightbulb moments when they connect information presented to what they are experiencing and figure out a way, either individually or with others, to resolve their situation. This is the reason I teach. This is what motivates me to keep sharing what I have seen and learned.

Please let us know if anything we have shared here has helped you…and how. Thank you for your interest in our articles!