Thursday, September 12, 2013

Perceptual Learning Styles workbook from PeopleKeys {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

I first started hearing about learning styles many years ago when I was very new to homeschooling. It was obvious that having insights into how we think and learn and perceive the world could be incredibly useful in homeschooling and beyond. Having already seen how different each of my kids are, I was very interested in reviewing workbooks from PeopleKeys.
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PeopleKeys has developed a variety of products - both workbooks and online resources - that provide access to behavioral assessment tools for applications in business, ministry, and education. Schoolhouse Review Crew members chose from a number of student resources from People Keys that helped assess personality types (based on DISC theory - see an explanation here), thinking styles, values styles, student strengths and more. With insights into how students think and what makes them 'tick', there are also insights into how to be more efficient in studying and which career choices may be better suited to each individual.

We chose an individual workbook to review, Perceptual Learning Styles. Earlier this year, I had purchased the Career Choice Workbook for my about-to-graduate son, because I just couldn't wait for the review to come up, so I'll tell a little about that one too!
How did we use it? Landon (14 years old and starting Grade 9) was actually quite interested in finding out more about his learning style. Since our school year hadn't yet started, I just gave him the workbook and said "work through this and let me know what your results are and what you think". The workbook didn't take long for him to complete - a few sessions of jotting down his answers to the questions and then using the information in the workbook to analyze his own results. Just for fun, I went through the questions and scribbled down my own answers to see what kind of results I would get. Not surprisingly, we were very different.

So, we found out that Landon's strongest learning styles are Auditory and Kinesthetic, and he scored lower in Visual learning style.The workbook included tips for all three learning styles to get the most out of lecture style classes, how to study on their own more efficiently, and how to have the best recall when writing tests.There is a list called the Learner's Toolbox sorted by learning style. These tools are things that are most effective for each of the learning styles. For example, auditory learners can learn well by reading or talking aloud and repeating back instructions. Visual learners like to see diagrams, maps, and photos, might find it helpful to draw symbols and pictures in their notes rather than just the words. Kinesthetic learners need lots of hands-on experiences so things like labs, crafts and object lessons may be most helpful for them. There were also some brief tips for choosing assignments (helpful for homeschoolers who are designing and tweaking their own curriculum!) and designing an optimum learning environment. One page in the workbook also gave some clues for figuring out what others' learning styles might be, based on observation and noticing what kinds of words and phrases they use.

As a homeschooler, Landon already has quite a bit of latitude to spend his study time in the way that he learns best, but this workbook gave him some more ideas and helped us understand why he prefers to hear things read out loud and sometimes doesn't appear to be paying much attention to pictures or diagrams. His learning style relies far more heavily on 'hearing' rather than on 'seeing' the information.

A few months ago I purchased the Career Choice Workbook for my 18-year-old son as he was graduated. Spencer wasn't very interested in going to college - partly because he wasn't entirely sure what he would like to study - and he didn't really know what kind of job he should be looking for either. The Career Choice Workbook helped him figure out his personality style, and combining that with his interests, he was able to narrow down the possibilities. There was a list for each of the dominant personality traits in the DISC profile showing general occupations that suit well, as well as a more detailed list of 'career clusters' with skills and abilities needed and suggested styles that would do well. That list turned out to be helpful, getting Spencer to think about a couple of career choices that he hadn't seriously considered before. He is still considering whether he'll return to college or find a trade that he likes, but at least now he has some better direction.

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What we liked best:

  • the tips for studying effectively and figuring out your best learning environments and tools were very practical in most cases
  • the quiz to identify the personality style (for the Career Style Report) and to identify the Perceptual Learning style didn't take very long to complete and weren't difficult
  • I particularly liked the tips for determining the learning styles of others, as it can be useful when teaching a class or leading a group, or when working with others.
What I need to mention:

  • description and explanation of the three learning styles is included in the Perceptual Learning Styles book, but it is not detailed. You may want to check out resources with more in-depth explanations of learning styles if you're not already familiar with the concept. The same holds true for the DISC personalities in the Career Style Report.
  • I think many of the tips in the Perceptual Learning Style Workbook would be most helpful for students that are preparing for college, or may be planning on taking some of their high school coursework in a classroom setting. Let's face it, in our homeschool setting, we don't often do much classroom-style teaching, and we tend to naturally adapt to the learning styles of our individual students. 
  • From what I've seen, I think that having the entire StudentKeys Workbook with all the workbooks and reports might be the most effective use of these materials. 
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Our bottom line: I think both boys learned a little bit more about themselves and how their brains and personalities work and affect how they learn and function. Landon and I are tweaking a few things in how we're doing schoolwork this year as a result of seeing that his dominant learning style is auditory. We now know that it's important to cut down on noise distractions, and that hearing something explained is at least as helpful to him as seeing it. When I give instructions for assignments or even chores that need doing, I more often have him repeat them back to me because I know that he has a better chance of remembering them.

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Would you like to learn more about how your students learn? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website at:
See all the products in the StudentKeys Program. Learn a little more about DISC theory and DISC personality traits.

Pricing: The StudentKeys Perceptual Learning Styles Workbook is available for $13. The Perceptual Learning Style Report can also be completed online for $12. See the pricing and descriptions for all StudentKeys products on the StudentKeys Program page.

Recommended Ages: The Perceptual Learning Styles Workbook is best for ages 13 and up.

You can follow PeopleKeys on Facebook.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other Crew member reviews. Crew members reviewed several other workbooks and online reports, so be sure to check out their thoughts on those resources as well!

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