Training Design And Delivery: Meeting The Needs Of Sequential Learners

To deliver effective training materials, it's important for tutors to understand that their students are likely to have different learning styles. Experts often refer to The Index of Learning Styles, which considers four dimensions of learning style. Sequential learners learn most effectively in certain scenarios, and it's useful to understand how some tools and methods are particularly useful for these candidates. Learn more about the characteristics of sequential learners and how you can adapt training content and delivery to meet their needs.

Identifying sequential learners

As the name suggests, sequential learners generally absorb information when you present it to them in a linear, orderly fashion. These candidates will consider a process in distinct stages and will systematically piece together each step to understand the bigger picture.

Sequential learners quickly become disengaged if they cannot clearly understand course content, and the steps they will need to follow to reach the learning outcome. These learners also tend to ignore their emotional reactions when considering information, and will focus closely on every detail.

Useful learning tools

Sequential learners respond well to certain learning tools. These students are most likely to record every detail that a tutor relays, to help them focus on the outcome. As such, sequential learners often like to use journals and learning logs. These tools can help these students structure each stage in a process in a way that they can easily visualize, and it's not unusual for sequential learners to repeat every point that a tutor makes.

Sequential learners often respond well to online learning courses because they can easily see the linear progression of the idea or content. For example, e-learning modules often show the progress at the top of the screen, and offer the student the chance to absorb and review each detail in their own time. In other scenarios, sequential learners may delay classroom delivery because they continue to ask the tutor lots of questions about a single point or idea.

The benefits of visualization

If you're training a sequential learner, he or she will often respond well if you can visualize the ideas that you are presenting. As such, flow charts and process diagrams are particularly effective tools to use. A process chart helps candidates visualize each stage in a task, and allows students to see the relationship between different tasks. In some cases, a single, detailed process chart can deliver information more effectively than many pages of text.

Effective learning activities

The analytical mind of a sequential learner helps him or her work systematically through a problem. As such, tutors should design group exercises that ask candidates to work through a series of steps to reach a given outcome. Sequential learners also respond well to research projects. Tutors should consider tasks that encourage students to go out and gather the information they need to answer a question or solve a problem.

Puzzles and logic activities also work particularly well for sequential learners. In these tasks, students cannot normally reach an outcome until they have completed certain steps, or answered key questions. Sequential learners respond well to these challenges, and can help other candidates in the group focus on each task.

Helping sequential learners see the bigger picture

While sequential learners work well with detail, these students will often struggle to see the bigger picture. For example, you can often teach a candidate how to calculate a complex mathematical algorithm, but you cannot then easily help them understand how this relates to a practical application in the real world.

Tutors will often need to help candidates find these relationships sequentially. For example, the 'Five Whys' technique of problem solving is often useful here because it helps the student answer a bigger question in small, linear steps. Six Sigma practitioners commonly use this technique to get to the root cause of a problem.

It's important to recognize different learning styles when delivering training. Look into sites like for trainings and ideas. If you're working with a sequential learner, focus on tasks and tools that help the student learn in a logical, linear fashion, while considering exercises that can also encourage bigger picture thinking.