What's your learning style?

As we move into Spring we may be looking for new challenges in our personal or our work life.  So maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at ourselves and consider the way we like to learn?

Many of us will have come across Honey and Mumford’s model of learning styles, which was developed in 1986 and identified 4 learning styles, which have become the basis on which change and learning programmes are built.  These are:

Activists, who learn by doing and getting their hands dirty.  They like to dive in with both feet first. They have an open-minded approach to learning, involving themselves fully and without bias in new experiences.

Theorists, who like to understand the theory behind the actions and need models, concepts and facts in order to engage in the learning process. They prefer to analyse and synthesise, drawing new information into a systematic and logical 'theory'.

Pragmatists, who need to be able to see how to put the learning into practice in the real world. Abstract concepts and games are of limited use.  They are experimenters, trying out new ideas, theories and techniques to see if they work.

Reflectors, who learn by observing and thinking about what happened and may prefer to watch from the sidelines. They view experiences from a number of different perspectives, collecting data and taking the time to work towards an appropriate conclusion.

So how do you prefer to learn?  Which methods suit you?  And how do you reflect on your learning and incorporate it into your workstyle?

Here is a summary of preferred learning styles, their characteristics and the activities a learner will find most helpful.  You may like to think about situations where you feel you have learned well and were able to absorb information and make use of it in your daily life, your work or your hobbies.  And it’s worth remembering that although we may have a preferred learning style we can still learn in other ways too. 


Learns from experiencing new things and enjoys a challenge.  Dislikes following detailed instructions and being passive in a situation.

Brainstorming, problem solving, group discussion, puzzles, competitions, role-play


Prefers a structured format or framework and needs opportunities to explore ideas, concepts and the relationship between them.  May be uncomfortable with unstructured activities where feelings and emotions are involved.

Models, statistics, stories, quotes, background information, applying theories


Appreciates trying things out and needs to see that activities have practical relevance to their work.  Needs to see that his/her efforts have practical benefits.  

Time to think about how to apply learning in reality, case studies, problem solving, discussion


Needs to assimilate information before acting and can undertake research then produce reports.  Learns well from listening and observing.   

Paired discussions, self analysis questionnaires, personality questionnaires, time out, observing activities, feedback from others, coaching, interviews

So, as you consider new challenges for the Spring or as you start to think about your personal development, you may like to reflect on the kind of opportunities which will work best for you – and you could even consider trying something different.

Izzy Ixer

Blue Pebble Coaching Ltd