Learning in Visual Studio .NET

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Learning
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Accommodator Concrete experience
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Diverger
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Testing concepts in new situations
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Observation and reflection
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Converger
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Formation of concepts and abstract generalizations
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The four learning styles
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Table 41 Learning styles and preferences Learning style Converger Good at Abstract conceptualization and active experimentation Characteristics Good with the practical application of ideas; unemotional; prefers dealing with things rather than people Imaginative and emotional; interested in humanities, culture and the arts Good at creating theoretical models, inductive reasoning and integrating different explanations into a common understanding Good at implementing plans and new experiments; greater risk takers than other styles Typical roles Engineers
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4
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Even though we will have a preference for some aspects of the learning cycle, we still need to complete the cycle to learn Although our natural tendency may be to work with people of a similar style, we can bene t from working with people of different styles, because this helps create a richer understanding of a problem and possible solutions The challenge for development teams is to harness these different talents and approaches to produce the best solution, rather than letting the differences create divisions within the group
Myers Briggs, Belbin and Co
In the workplace, Kolb learning styles explain more than just how a person learns: they can help explain why two people work well together and another two don t They can shed light on why a team is dysfunctional or why some groups seem to antagonize each other Kolb wasn t alone in creating these theories Two, perhaps better-known, techniques are Belbin and Myers Briggs Meredith Belbin studied how teams worked and suggested that people take on one of nine roles within a team These roles are: implementer, shaper, completer/ nisher, plant, monitor/evaluator, specialist, coordinator, team worker and researcher A balanced team needs each of these roles to be lled: having too many of one type and not enough of another would unbalance a team Some individuals can ll more than one role, so teams don t need to be composed of nine people exactly One of the best-known pro ling techniques is Myers Briggs This approach is based on the ideas of psychiatrist Carl Jung, and while it was initially aimed at understanding individuals, it can also be used to analyse teams In particular, human resources departments and recruitment managers often seem keen on Myers Briggs Myers Briggs rates individuals on four scales: introvert and extrovert, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling and judging and perceiving A person taking the test is scored on these criteria, which are then combined to give one of 16 personality types Again, these types can be used to understand team dynamics or interpersonal relationships Although widely used, all three techniques have been criticized for various reasons The tests used to categorize people aren t always consistent Personally, Myers Briggs tests have sometimes categorized me as an introvert and on other occasions as an extrovert Myers Briggs is also open to criticism because it is based on Jung s ideas of psychology These ideas contain within them a model of the world and humanity that isn t universally shared Whatever test we use, there s always a danger that once we pigeon-hole people, we start to expect them to conform to type, we restrict our expectations and we limit their opportunities
Learning
Plenty of books and web sites devoted to Kolb, Belbin, Myers Briggs and other pro ling schemes are available for further research The point of presenting the ideas here, and speci cally Kolb s, is not to suggest that you use them but, rather, to shed light on the learning process and the differences between individuals
45 Learning, Change, Innovation and Problem Solving
An old philosophy question asks: If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to it hear it, does it make a sound You may also like to yourself: If I m told something and it doesn t change my behaviour, have I really learnt anything If you never learnt anything after today, would you behave differently from the way you behaved today Unless you lived your life by a roll of the dice, there seems little reason to assume that you would If you wore a big coat today because the weather was cold, then tomorrow you d wear a big coat again, and the day after that Unless you re able to learn that the weather is now warm, you ll keep wearing a big coat In the lm Groundhog Day, Bill Murray s character is learning: he is aware that the day repeats itself and he learns a little bit more piano every day until he is a virtuoso But nobody else learns: nobody else notices that the day is repeating, so they all behave in exactly the same way every day Informed choices such as what coat to wear, what supermarket to shop at or what brand of shampoo to buy are all the result of learning something that changes our behaviour Sometimes this is single-loop learning the weather is warm, so I wear a different coat and sometimes this is double-loop say, I become a vegetarian and decide to shop elsewhere for a greater variety of vegetables The relationship is even more obvious if we turn the question around: Why should we change anything We only behave differently because new information has come into our possession that causes a change in behaviour Otherwise, without new information, the decisions that I made today will be good for tomorrow When we change our behaviour, we re innovating We re trying something new Sometimes we change our behaviour as the result of something we learn, and sometimes we change our behaviour and learn something as a result Learning, problem solving, innovation and change are just different aspects of the same thing Figure 46 shows how when we solve a problem we learn, when we innovate we change, when we change we learn, and what we learn helps us solve problems Single-loop learning and action allow us to react