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A Manager's Guide to Understanding the Kolb Learning Styles Inventory

Ken Long

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The following notes are from The Kolb Learning Style Inventory- Version 3.1, 2005 Technical Specification. Published by Experience based Learning Systems, Inc (2005). This is an executive summry of that 90 page document pertaining to it's validity and interpretation. ELT stands for Experiential Learning Theory, a leading theory of adult learning.

Notes on the instrument's validity and its interpretation:

  1. 2 stated purposes of the instrument:
  2. To increase individual awareness of and control over the learning process
  3. As a research tool into the validity, scope and applicability of the ELT
  4. Not a predictor: ELT does not have predictive quality, and research shows that the LSI itself cannot be used as a predictor for job performance, nor should it be used as a discriminator in hiring or in job assignment.
  5. It would be improper to use the instrument to establish stereotypes, which could lead to self fulfilling properties.
  6. There is strong evidence for its Test-Retest statistics.
  7. The validity of the instrument is well established and has led to its wide application in both practice and research in a wide variety of settings and communities, including: education, management, nursing, medicine, accounting and law.
  8. Meta-analyses have confirmed it does not have predictive value.
  9. There is a tendency for people to increase their comfort with Abstraction as they age (at a later point, the increase in Abstraction reverses, however)
  10. Gender: males tend to be more abstract, women more concrete.
  11. In the education arena: the research suggests that assessments for grade should include different modes of learning styles in order to fairly evaluate learning for students who are coming from different quadrants.

Just as a good carpenter knows how to use all the tools on his tool belt, a good manager understands the vast array of tools available to her to understand her team and herself. The LSI is an excellent tool for developing that self awareness.

Ken Long, Chief of Research, Tortoise Capital Management

Adding value through independent research, combining technical analysis and human behavioral psychology

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