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TrainingZONE Glossary: Learning Styles


Learning Styles

Definition: Different people learn in different ways according to their past experience of learning, their character, and their preferences. As a result, trainers need to employ a range of different training methods and techniques in their programmes in order to ensure that people with different learning styles are able to engage in and benefit from the learning.

Several writers have developed work on learning styles. Probably the most well known work at the present time are Peter Honey and Alan Mumford who have written extensively on the subject and created a diagnostic instrument to help people work out their preferred learning styles.

Honey and Mumford identified four styles:

  • Activists: learners who prefer to do things and who enjoy new and varied experiences
  • Reflectors: learners who prefer a detachment from the action so they can reflect on their experiences from different perspectives
  • Theorists: people who tend to relate their observations to models and systems as a way of making sense of them
  • Pragamatists: people with a preference for applying ideas and learning to new practice and testing things out.

    Most people display a combination of these learning styles but the balance of each varies, and may change according to situation and context.

    The implication of learning styles for the trainer is that he or she should try to discover as much as possible about the preferred learning styles of their audience in order to design the most relevant tutoring approach. Lots of formal teaching will not engage the Activist. Simulations and roleplay will not engage the Reflector. Where the learning styles of a group are unknown, the trainer needs to employ a wide range of different methods; for important learning points, they should consider using two different techniques to reinforce the learning point for people with different styles.

    Feature articles on Learning Styles:

    Behind learning - the role of learning styles and environment.

    Review of learning styles software.

    Survey into whether learning styles affect the way we engage in e-learning.

    Article on learning styles in learning design.

    Index of all news stories on learning.

    Resource materials:

    Downloable resource materials on identifying and working with learning styles.

    Learning Style inventory supplied by PSI-Press and available online.

    Survey on e-learning styles.

    Providers drawing on learning styles in their work:

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