Peter Honey and Alan Mumford developed the Learning Styles Theory -- a followup to the work of David Kolb and his Experiential Learning Theory. Honey and Mumford identified four different styles of learning: "activist," "theorist", "reflector" and "pragmatist." According to the theory, different people naturally gravitate toward a particular learning style. Therefore, to achieve optimum learning, Honey and Mumford argue that one must identify his natural learning style, understand it and find ways to learn that complement the style.


Activists are "do-ers" and "go-getters." They need to take action, get involved and fully immerse themselves in a learning situation. Activists are open-minded when it comes to learning, too. They are willing to try new things without pre-judgment. They approach new tasks with eagerness and excel in high-pressure situations. Learning activities most suited to activists include teamwork, role-play and participating in competitions. Activists thrive when working with people and when there is drama and a new challenge at hand.


Theorists tend to think carefully and logically about situations, preferring to work within a given system or model. They do not allow their emotions to affect the conclusions they make when learning and instead question everything. They do not make assumptions without undertaking thorough research and analysis. Theorists shy away from creativity and prefer to work in logical and practical terms, basing their learning on established concepts, theories and methods. Theorists respond well to learning activities that enable them to use statistics, compile evidence and ask questions.


Reflectors like to take a step back from a situation and learn by observation rather than jumping into action and making snap decisions. Instead of getting actively involved in a discussion or event, reflectors tend to sit back, listen, look at things from different perspectives and then take some time to mull things over before coming to a conclusion. Reflectors learn best through questionnaires, interviews, feedback and observational activities. They prefer to take part in activities that allow them to think before acting, undertake research and watch events unfold from the sidelines.


Pragmatists prefer to apply knowledge and theories in a practical and literal sense and to the world around them. They learn by testing and experimenting ideas and solving problems. They prefer not to take part in discussions about how theories work. Instead, they like to put things into action. Pragmatists respond well to learning that can be directly and easily applied to the world around them. They welcome the opportunity to experiment and apply what they have learned in a practical way.

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