A “learning style” is an individual’s natural pattern of acquiring and processing information in all learning situations.
A core concept is that individuals differ in how they learn depending on the situation they are in. The idea of individualized learning styles originated in the 1970’s, and has greatly influenced education.

“Learning styles” are commonly known as ways to how people like to learn. Everybody has one. Some people know what they are, others do not.

Some individuals may find that they will have a preferred style of learning.
Others may find they use different styles in different situations or scenarios.
Due to this fact, there is no right mix. Nor are your styles fixed.

By recognizing and understanding your own learning styles, you can use techniques better suited to you. This improves the speed and quality of your learning in all situations.

There are a number of systems for describing learning styles. Below are two commonly used learning styles that are provided by:

David Kolb: Experiential Learning

David Kolb is one of the leading researchers in learning strategies and learning processes.
He believed people learn and adapt behaviour through concrete experiences. The model uses the Lewin Cycle of adult learning.
Kolb concluded there are four stages that follow on from each other to complete a cycle of learning:

  • The first stage is concrete experience where a student has active experience of learning something first hand.
  • This is then followed by reflective observation on that personal experience.
  • The next phase of the cycle, abstract conceptualisation, focuses on how the experience is applied to known theory and how it can then be modified for future active experimentation.


Peter Honey and Alan Mumford learning styles

Peter Honey and Alan Mumford adapted Kolb’s learning styles to develop their own model of learning styles, which is based on research into behavioural tendencies. It uses a similar learning cycle model with the following four stages:

  • Having an experience (Activist)
  • Reviewing the experience (Reflector)
  • Concluding from the experience (Theorist)
  • Planning the next steps (Pragmatist)

Their four learning styles are summarised below:


  • Likes - doing and experiencing; games; practical activities; anything that is energetic and involving.
  • Strengths - putting ideas into action; enjoy change and variety; flexible; and acting quickly
  • >Preferences - new experiences; taking risks; getting things done; getting involved in activities with people.
  • Dislikes - sitting around for too long; working alone; theorising; having to listen to others.
  • Concerned about - personal preferences.


  • Likes - time to think; to observe; to take it all in; watching others; solitude and time.
  • Strengths - collects data from a variety of sources; looking at situations from various perspectives; grasping the bigger picture.
  • Preferences - concerned about outcomes than processes; interested how people behave and feel; reflects on the experience gained.
  • Dislikes - being hurtled into an activity; no time to think; crammed timetables; lack of privacy; no time to prepare.
  • Concerned about - personal meaning; feelings of others; maintaining a wide range of interests; harmony.


  • Likes - analysis and logic; being stretched; abstract concepts; thrive on structure and clarity.
  • Strengths - creates theoretical models; thoroughness; verbal skills; developing and working with systems.
  • Preferences - dealing with ideas; solving problems; to know the experts' views; to work alone.
  • Dislikes - frivolity; mindless fun; wasting time; not being able to question; lack of a timetable and structure.
  • Concerned about - details; quality of information; accuracy of facts; personal effectiveness; intellectual ability.


  • Likes - practical problem solving; applied learning.
  • Strengths - practical application of ideas; integrating theory and practice; decision making; getting things done.
  • Preferences - interested in structural aspects of situations; "hands on" experience.
  • Dislikes - anything theoretical; learning that focuses too much on past or future.
  • Concerned about - testing things out to get the correct solution; practical application of what they learn.

How do I find out about my Learning Style?

The most common way for an individual is to take a test. Here is a link to a free on-line test devised by Honey and Mumford.
It consists of 20 questions. For a full comprehensive summary of your learning style you can take the full test which is a pay as you go test, which is all explained on the Honey and Mumford website.


The Honey and Mumford questionnaire can be purchased for both group and individual purposes.
It will give a full 80-item inventory and evaluation based on the results.
However, there are a number of free questionnaires available that will give you an approximation of your learning style preference.

To learn more and take free test(s):

Brian Mac Learning Styles Survey

When you have completed the questions, you can submit to get your answer, to see a graphical representation of your learning styles.
When you have finished, come back to this page to see what your learning style means, if that page does not fully explain it.

Categories: Advice-for-students

Tags: Activist Experience Learn Learning-styles Pragmatist Questions Reflector Skills Theorist Verbal