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Are you a grouper?  Or a stringer? 

No, you’re not being compared to a wide mouthed fish! It’s your thinking style.

Groupers and stringers are two mental lenses you put on to “see” the world.

Imagine that you’re directing a movie.  You’re out in a beautiful natural setting.  You have choices:  you could shoot a long shot of the hills beyond and then zoom in on that pretty, red poppy.  Or, you could get a close up of the flower and then pull back to bring the hills into focus.  Big picture first is the grouper approach.  Starting with a close up is the stringer approach.  Both are preferences we developed as young children.

Preferences get the mental machinery going.  For groupers, big picture ideas rev up  thinking.  For stringers, nitty gritty facts and stats are captivating.  So here’s the rub:  when these two types of thinkers try to communicate, their preferences are overlooked by those with the opposite lens.  The groupers find the details boring; the stringers find the ideas unimportant and too general.  And that can even lead to frustration.

Have you ever had the argument where someone says “you never said that” and you’re darn sure you did?  Well, you’re right!  You said it, but the listener didn’t process it. 

Is there a way for these two to communicate harmoniously?  Yes!  Here’s a quick fix when you’re trying to communicate with your opposite.  If you’re a grouper speaking to a stringer, say your main idea twice – once at the beginning to get your thinking going and then at the end to be “heard” by the stringers.  If you’re a stringer, start out with a name-that-topic sentence like “I’d like to talk about …” That’ll get the grouper’s attention.  Once the other person is engaged, you both can share ideas and details easily.

In landscapes or information, the world is made up of both.  Ultimately, long shots and big picture thinking are just as important as closeups and details.  So, when it comes to communicating, understanding, analyzing, and innovating, ambi-thinkers have a definite edge.  They think better because they “see” the world from both angles.  And that can be learned. 

How can a tutor-coach help with that?

The way we think is learned.  And that means it’s open to change … if we have the right kind of training.

To be clear, grouper and stringer processing preferences are no small matter.  They affect what we know, because we used our preferences in past learning situations.  They also affect our skills, including the way we read, listen, speak, write, solve problems, and create.  And ultimately, our preferences affect our results.

Think for a moment about your thinking.  What’s easier for you?  Ideas or details?  Essay questions or objective items?  Instruction goals or steps?  What would it be like to know how to get both?

It takes the skills of a tutor and a coach to help you become an ambi-thinker.  Training from a tutor can show you how to find both broad ideas and important details on your immediate tasks and assignments.  But it takes a coach to expand your current skills so that you can think for both as you read or write or solve problems, etc.  In addition, the tutor-coach combo will help you transfer your new approaches from one subject to another and from one task to another.

Our Tutor-Coaches have a “let’s do more” approach. 

They know your preferences are a big matter!

Eliminate Back-to-School Stress! How?

With our 5-lesson SMART Start Tutor-Coaching program.

– Guided Self Assessment
– 5 One-on-One Coaching Sessions
– 7 Digital Tools for Success

Learn More

About the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)

The USDLA, a 501(c) 3 non-profit association formed in 1987, reaches 20,000 people globally with sponsors and members operating in and influencing 46% of the $913 billion. U.S. education and training market. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking, and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-K-12 education, home schooling, higher education, and continuing education, as well as business, corporate, military, government, and telehealth markets.