Saturday, February 17, 2007

Individual Learning Preferences

What motivates nonprofit board members to engage in learning activities in their personal and professional lives? How do they meet those needs? The next section of our needs assessment included questions focused on the individual as adult learner.

I asked the survey participants to identify the factors that most frequently motivate them to engage in a learning activity. By a wide margin, personal interest and problem solving topped the list. Following are the percentage of respondents who identified each motivation as influential:

• Personal interest in the subject – 98 percent
• Attempting to solve a problem – 88 percent
• Seeking information about alternative approaches – 69 percent
• Wondering what others do in similar situations – 48 percent
• Responding to a requirement (e.g., mandated by a supervisor) – 27 percent

I also asked them to identify the resources they rely upon most frequently in their learning efforts. Following are their responses:

• The Internet – 77 percent
• Classes or workshops – 75 percent
• Friends or colleagues – 73 percent
• Books – 65 percent
• Newsletters or magazines – 52 percent
• Professional journals – 52 percent
• Professional associations – 46 percent
Listservs/e-mail groups – 42 percent

Two themes emerged as I considered these data sets. First, these board members appear to approach learning with a healthy mix of intellectual curiosity and pragmatic desire to be as effective as possible in their life responsibilities.

Second, they draw upon a fairly broad basket of learning resources in the process, combining interactions with others with more solitary exploration of print and electronic media.

How might we apply these insights about individual learning preferences to board development opportunities? Please comment and share your thoughts with other readers of this blog.

In the next entry, I’ll provide an overview of responses to questions specifically targeting respondents’ expectations and recommendations for nonprofit board education.

No comments: