Four Learning Styles

The table below summarises Honey and Mumford's (1992) four main types of individuals and their preferred ways of learning. The four learning styles are: activists, reflectors, theorists and pragmatists. The table summarises what sort of person each type is, when they learn best and when they learn less. We have also given an example scenario involving a new mobile phone. How would you behave if you were given a new mobile phone?

Type of learner These learn best when: These learn less when: Example


Activists like to be involved in new experiences. They are open minded and enthusiastic. They enjoy doing new things and tend to act first and consider the implications second.

Involved in new experiences, problems and opportunities; working with others in games, team tasks and role-playing; chairing meetings/discussions.  Listening to lectures or long presentations; reading, writing or thinking on their own; following precise instructions. When I get a new mobile phone, I take it out of the box and find out everything it can do by experimenting and playing around with it.


Reflectors like to stand back and look at a situation from different perspectives. They like to collect information and think about it before coming to any conclusions.

Observing individuals or groups doing something; given the opportunity to review what has happened and what they have learnt; doing tasks without tight deadlines. Acting as a leader or role-playing in front of others; doing things with no time to prepare; being rushed or worried about deadlines.

When I get a new mobile phone, I like somebody to show me what it can do before I have a go.


Theorists adapt and integrate observations into complex and logically sound theories. They think problems through in a step-by-step way. They tend to be perfectionists.

Put in complex situations where they have to use their skills and knowledge; in structured situations with clear purpose; they have the chance to question and probe ideas.  They have to participate in situations which emphasise feelings; the activity is unstructured; they feel they are out of tune with other participants.  When I get a new mobile phone, I read the manual in full before trying out any of its features.


Pragmatists are keen to try things out. They want concepts than can be applied to their job/role. They tend to be impatient with lengthy discussions.

There is an obvious link between the training topic and their needs; they have the chance to try out techniques with feedback; they have a role-model or mentor. There is no obvious immediate benefit that they recognise; there are no guidelines; the event or learning is 'all theory'. When I get a new mobile phone, I try and learn only the functions I need to know and refer to the manual or ask for help if I get stuck.

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