It’s a well-established fact that people learn differently. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. So, with that in mind, let's explore what learner type you could be.

You may find that hands-on learning works best for you, while your friend may prefer to follow set instructions. The good thing is that when it comes to learning, there is no right or wrong approach. However, it can be useful to have a better understanding of your own individual best way of learning so you can maximise your skills.

In this post, we’ll help you discover what type of learner you are, with a breakdown of different learner types, what they mean and how they can help you fully realise your potential.

What are learning types?

Learning types, learning models or learning styles are concepts used to define how different people learn. Developed by psychologists and those in education, they’re used to improve learning in schools and colleges, and can also help individuals refine their own methods of learning.

The concept of categorising learners has been around for decades, but many of the most prevalent learning style models were developed quite recently. That’s because how we learn has changed over time, with the rise of computers having a huge impact on how people of all ages retain information.

Some of the most prevalent modern learning concepts include the VARK framework, which stands for Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing and Kinaesthetic. Developed in the US in the 1980s, it’s widely used in schools as a way for teachers to assign different learning styles to their students.

The model we’ll be focusing on is the Honey and Mumford theory. Created by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford in the 1980s, it categorises learners into four categories, including Activists, Theorists, Pragmatists and Reflectors.

The four different learner types explained

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to learning. In fact, when it comes to retaining information, we’re all remarkably different.

If you want to get the most from your studies, understanding what type of learner you are can help you focus on activities that work for you.

The learning-style model developed by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford can be a useful place to start. In this model, they outline four different types of learner, including the Activist, the Reflector, the Pragmatist and the Theorist.

Find out about each unique learner type below.

smiling student

Learner type: Activist

If you were building a piece of furniture, would you read the instructions first, or would you prefer launching right into constructing it? If you chose the latter, you may be an Activist. Activists tend to learn by doing, prefer to solve problems and are happy working alongside others.

The most effective activities for the Activist learner type:

  • Brainstorming
  • Problem-solving
  • Group discussion
  • Puzzles
  • Competitions
  • Roleplay

Learner type: Reflector

This type of learner prefers to stay on the sidelines and observe the world around them. This makes Reflectors very good at looking at a situation from different points of view. You may be a Reflector yourself if you like talking things through with other people before forming an opinion.

Most effective activities for the Reflector learner type:

  • Models
  • Statistics
  • Stories
  • Quotes
  • Background information
  • Applying theories
student working

Learner type: Pragmatist

Pragmatists like to put their knowledge to use rather than relying on abstract concepts. They like to try out their ideas in the real world. Pragmatists will not believe something to be fact until they can see it in action. Does that sound like you? You could well be a Pragmatist, then.

Most effective activities for the Pragmatist learner type:

  • Time to think about how to apply learning in reality
  • Case studies
  • Problem-solving
  • Discussion

Learner type: Theorist

Are you the person who always asks for a reason before taking action? If so, you could well be a Theorist. These type of learners need to access facts and theories to help them engage with their material, which makes them more systematic and logical in their approach to learning.

Most effective activities for the Theorist learner type:

  • Paired discussions
  • Self-analysis questionnaires
  • Personality questionnaires
  • Time out
  • Observing activities
  • Feedback from others
  • Coaching
  • Interviews

Which learning style type applies to you? Perhaps you're a combination of a few different styles? Many people are.

If you want to know whether you’re an Activist, a Reflector, a Pragmatist or a Theorist, take our quiz below to find out.

How understanding your learner type can help with study

We get that the concept of learning styles might not sound all that relevant or useful. But the reality is that being aware of how you learn can make for more effective study - helping you to focus on the activities that work best for you.

Consider any revision you’ve done in the lead-up to an important exam: how you approach revising can have a huge impact on the information you’re able to retain.

Some people revise simply by reading and taking notes, while others need visual cues or prompt cards to commit information to memory. This is a great example of how understanding your own learner type can make for more efficient and effective study.

The great thing about distance learning is that you can learn in a style that suits you, at your own pace. That means no matter your preferred learning style, you can absorb the course content in a way that works for you.

Tips on interacting with other learners

Whether in school, amongst our family and friendship groups, or at the workplace, interacting with other types of learners is a normal part of life. But there are ways we can boost these interactions to maximise our own learning and encourage greater collaboration.

Here are a few tips on how to interact with other learners which may be of use to parents, teachers, and those working on a group project at work or during their studies:

  • Understand that other people work differently – empathy, patience and understanding are key to effective collaboration, so be mindful of other people’s preferred ways of learning.
  • Offer a platform for discussion – if you’re in a position of leadership, retain a platform for discussion, as many people learn best by talking through their ideas in an open and transparent environment.
  • Recognise your learning style in others – helping others to learn and process new information becomes much simpler when you recognise your own preferred ways of working. Keep in mind the four learning styles above and use this knowledge to inform your interactions with others.
student studying

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Did you enjoy learning about the different learning styles? For more useful guides and features, take a look at the rest of the Oxbridge blog. If you’d like to learn more about our distance learning courses, visit the homepage or contact our experienced course advisers today on 0121 630 3000.