As an Athletic Trainer, you’ve spent years in school learning subject matter required for both your degree and BOC certification. Throughout your education, it may not have occurred to you that your learning strategies might be different from the person sitting next to you.
Learning strategies are those techniques or specialized skills that the learner has developed to use in both formal and informal learning situations.1 There may have been subtle signs about your learning strategies, like your preference for a class or instructor, but you may not have really understood the reason behind your preferences.
Now as you work to finish your continuing education (CE) for the Board of Certification (BOC) reporting period ending December 31, 2015, it’s a good time to consider how your individual learning strategy could play a factor in your CE decisions.
For nearly 2 decades, educators studied the concept of learning styles to explore differences in learners with instruments to measure these differences. Many in the field of adult education began to research the concept of learning strategies as a way to better understand individual differences among learners.1
Modern studies suggest that distinct groups of learners do exist. Inquiries at 2 universities in the United States led to research related to learning strategies and to the development of Assessing The Learning Strategies of AdultS (ATLAS).1 ATLAS can be used for self-assessment to quickly identify your approaches to learning a task. According to Development of a user-friendly instrument for identifying the learning strategy of adults, ATLAS breaks down learners into 3 categories.
- Navigators: Navigators are focused learners who chart a course for learning and follow it. These learners initiate a learning activity by looking externally at the utilization of resources that will help them accomplish the learning task and by immediately beginning to narrow and focus these resources. Full description available at http://www.conti-creations.com/ATLAS_validity.pdf. (893-894)
- Problem Solvers: Problem Solvers rely on critical thinking skills. Like Navigators, Problem Solvers initiate a learning activity by looking externally at available resources; however, instead of narrowing the options available, they immediately begin to generate alternatives based on these resources. Full description available at http://www.conti-creations.com/ATLAS_validity.pdf. (894)
- Engagers: Engagers are passionate learners who love to learn, learn with feeling, and learn best when they are actively engaged in a meaningful manner with the learning task; ‘‘the key to learning is engagement – a relationship between the learner, the task or subject matter, the environment, and the teacher.’’ Full description available at http://www.conti-creations.com/ATLAS_validity.pdf. (894)
Understanding your learning strategies can help when selecting your CE program. Consider taking the ATLAS evaluation to better understand your individual learning strategies. You can find the ATLAS evaluation here: http://www.conti-creations.com/atlas.htm. The ATLAS evaluation is just one more tool you can use to help get the most out of your education.