When we learn something new, our first concern is generally what we have learnt - very few people stop to actually consider how they learn.
- Learners often operate with the same learning methods for years, without any thought as to whether it is the most effective way to absorb and retain information.
There is no single "most effective" way of learning; it varies from person-to-person and also depends significantly on the task or the information. Once you know the different approaches to learning, you can consider which is most beneficial for you and when each style is appropriate.
Though there are many different theories and frameworks regarding learning styles, Peter Honey and Alan Mumford (1986) identified four different approaches people took to learning new information:
In their view, most people generally stick to one of the styles, or vary between two depending on the scenario. Each of these styles comes with different educational activities which may be more appropriate to those individual learners, listed in the table below alongside attributes of each style.
Understanding your learning style - based on the attributes of each, or a questionnaire designed by Honey and Mumford - one can identify their specific style and therefore choose activities which are beneficial to their learning.
Individuals naturally show a preference for one (or perhaps two) of Honey and Mumford's learning styles.
- Each of these styles is associated with a different set of learning activities.
- Often, you will not have the luxury of being able to choose your learning activities; but if you do, you can pick those which best suit your learning style or tailor them as best you can.
- It is possible to improve yourself in other learning styles, so often it is beneficial to practice them for future occasions when you have little choice.
If you are a teacher or coach - be understanding the learning styles of those under your supervision you may be able to tailor your activities to get the most out of their potential.