Do you know your preferred learning style?


Everyday, we learn new things and we use the term ‘learning’ all the time in our everyday life. Abigail Adams once said – “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” In the quest of searching for information, understanding your learning styles is imperative. This help life coaches, trainers, teachers, mentors, and parents etc. to know how best to deliver their programmes or build learning relationships in a more effective way and it can also help you enhance your learning experience.

To start with, why don’t you ask yourself this questions before you proceed?

  • What is my preferred learning style?
  • How best do I learn?
  • How can I improve on my learning experience?

Different researches have shown that people have different preferences and concentrations in how they absorb and process information. These preferences are occasionally referred to as ‘learning styles’ and are used to explain and assist us in understanding the different ways in which different people learn. There are several preferences on learning styles but one of the most famous and widely adopted is Honey and Mumford’s learning style model.

According to the authors of this model, there are four major learning styles. These are:

  • Activists;
  • Reflectors;
  • Theorists;
  • Pragmatists.

Activists – are ‘practical’ learners. They prefer to have a go and learn through test and error. They like to ‘do’ first before thinking of the risk. They tend to act first and consider the consequences afterwards. Their days are filled with activity. They are sociable people constantly involving themselves with others. Activists are likely to say statements like: “Let’s just give it a try and see the outcome”, “Can I try it out?” etc.

An activist philosophy is: “I’ll try anything first time”.

Activists would wants to be involved in a course that is grounded on laboratory investigation for researchers or detailed assignment to develop the skills on the job. In addition, activists enjoy undertaking real-world open and flexible interactive learning programmes, or activity-based training courses (communication and virtual classrooms (Chats like) rather than those that call for quiet study at home on your own. They involve themselves completely and without favouritism in new experiences. Conclusively, activists have an open-minded approach, not doubtful, and this tends to make them eager to learn anything new.

Suggested learning process activities for ‘activists’ are: brainstorming, competitions, role-plays, puzzles, group discussion and problem solving etc.

Reflector – are ‘tell me’ learners. They fancy to be fully briefed before continuing a task or an activity. Reflectors like to think about what they’re learning. They are careful in type and always want to think about things in detail, watch and assess from a variety of angles before taking action. Reflectors are likely to say: “Give me time to think about this”, “I like to take things one step at a time” etc.

A reflector philosophy is: “to be thoughtful”.

Reflectors like time to read around a subject, reflect and also observe others try things out. They prefer courses that will give them time to study in advance, and discuss overtime, rather than just a day course needing their immediate contribution. “Reflectors are relaxed people, they like to think about their experiences and observe them carefully from many different angles. They prefer collecting data (both first hand and from others) and take their time to work towards an appropriate conclusion. They are cautious people and they desire to take a back seat in deliberations and meetings. Lastly, Reflectors enjoy observing other people, listen to others and get the point of the dialogue before making any contribution.

Suggested learning process activities for ‘reflectors’ are: Coaching, paired discussions, feedbacks, books, interviews, self-analysis questionnaires, articles, observing activities and time out etc.

Theorists – are ‘prove me’ learners. They seldom want reassurance that a task or project makes absolute sense. Theorists are interested in knowing how the new knowledge fits into their ‘framework’ and into earlier theories. They tend to be difficult with knowledge that doesn’t fit into existing knowledge of theirs. Theorists are likely to say: “How does this fit in with (x)? ”, “Does it make sense?” etc.

A theorist philosophy is: “If it’s analytical then it’s good”.

Theorists enjoy models and theories, with loads of background information. They prefer courses or assignments that are theory-based rather than case-based. They are perfectionists who won’t relax until things are in order and fit into a logical structure. They like to examine and synthesise. They believe in thinking problems across an upright, step-by-step logical way. They are likely to be isolated, methodical and committed to rational objectivity rather than everything vague or biased. They approach problems in a consistent logical way. They believe in what they know and will refuse anything that doesn’t fit strictly. Above all, theorists are the type of learners who are always curious to understand the theory behind every action.

Suggested learning process activities for ‘theorists’ are: quotes, stories, basic assumptions, philosophies, theories models, systems thinking, statistics, background information etc.

Pragmatists – are ‘demonstrate to me’ learners. They are interested in what works in reality and will only approve of a specialist demonstration. They are experimenter, who enjoys testing out new ideas, philosophies and methods to see if they work in practice. They don’t believe in abstract concepts. Pragmatists are realistic, simple people who enjoy solving problems and making concrete decisions. Pragmatists are likely to say: “How will it work in real-world?”, “How relevant is this to practice?” etc.

Their philosophy is: “In as much as it works, it’s OK!”

Pragmatists prefer interactive or problem-based learning, where they have ample time to think about things on their own, and discuss them with others. They are interested in thinking about the practical applications of what they’re learning. They answer to problems and opportunities ‘as a challenge’.

Pragmatists confidently search out new ideas and take the first opportunity to experiment its real world application. They are the type of people who after training or a course are full of ideas and are eager to try them out in practice. They like to follow things through, act fast and positively on ideas that fascinate them. In conclusion, pragmatists are likely to be irritated with meditating and flexible discussions.

Suggested learning process activities for ‘pragmatists’ are: Problem solving, discussion, case studies, practical books, time to reflect about how to apply learning in real world etc.

Can you identify your learning style after reading this article?

If yes, lucky you but if you can’t and would like to know your learning style using the Honey and Mumford questionnaire, drop your e-mail at the comment space below this post and I will send you a copy of the questionnaire.

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