Learning Styles

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Learning style is the way human beings take in new and/or difficult information, how they process, store and retrieve it. (Prashnig, B: Debating Learning Styles)

Having studied a small number of learning styles I will evaluate my own personal learning style and how I can use this through the next three years of my life at Bucks New University. I will look at the most popular theories in use today and their value in today’s world. The theory of individual learning styles began in the 1970’s and developed thoroughly in the 1980’s becoming more and more popular in recent years. The use of MRI scan data was added to already developing theories to understand how the brain processed information. (Revell, P, May 05) A learning review carried out in 2004 by the ‘Learning and Skills Research Centre’ revealed that there are 71 established learning style theories, a number of these are very similar in style. I am going to focus on 3 widely used theories methods, David Kolb’s learning style model, Honey & Mumford’s Learning Style Questionnaire and Fleming’s VARK.


This diagram shows the ‘cycle of learning’ created by Kolb. David Kolb, began developing his Learning Style model in 1971, he then published his learning style model in 1984. The model is made of 4 learning styles; experience, reflection, reflecting and planning. In his cycle of learning Kolb describes that we will experience something, reflect on what happened, think how we can change or what we can use again and then act upon this and do it again changing any mistakes we made first time round, therefore repeating the cycle. For example when learning to ride a bike you may fall off due to hitting a tree (the experience,) look at what why we hit the tree, not looking up? (reflect,) think about how we can change why we fell off, look forward as we are riding (plan) and then finally try again to ride looking forward. This cycle may repeat itself many times before we get right what we was trying to learn.

Honey & Mumford’s questionnaire


In 1992 Peter Honey and Alan Mumford created a questionnaire for learners to identify their learning style. The questionnaire originally consisted of 80 questions but this has been shortened and made available with only 40 question’s. Honey and Mumford’s model is based heavily on the Kolb model but focuses in on the in-between stages of the cycle. They agree with Kolb that all stages are crucial to learning, they suggest that some people tend to be happier with one stage of the cycle over others. (Cameron, S 1995) Honey and Mumford determined four learning styles that people may prefer to use than trying to use the whole cycle of Kolb’s model. The four stages are, activists, reflectors, theorists and pragmatists. Activists are very open minded, will try new things without much thought, are very sociable and probably prefer group work. However they are likely to get bored very quickly and find it hard to sit still for long periods of time. Activists will most likely be the planners within the marketing industry as they have lots of experiences and enjoy overcoming obstacles, they will most likely be watched closely by the manager due to their tendencies to jump in, act and think afterwards. Reflectors are much more passive and will think in much more depth before reaching any decision’s, they will tend to take more of a back seat role and observe others. A reflective member of staff would make be good in a manager role because they think with their heads, not their heart and would therefore make decisions that are more informative. Theorists enjoy approaching problems logically and having information to back up theories. Theorists are very good at analysing data and researching in depth. They can struggle to work with activists as they act first then think whereas theorists will think (a lot) before acting. Theorist would be best at doing marketing research and analysing the information as this something they...
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