In an earlier blog, we set out An introduction to cognitive domains and learning styles.
Today we are looking in more detail at how understanding your learning styles can help you, not only with your learning and career path, but also in your life in general.
How to work out your learning styles
At CMS we use the Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Assessment Characteristics to assess how different students learn, evaluated in four categories:
Taking these in turn:
- Activists prefer to learn by doing. They have an open mind when it comes to learning and are happy to dive in and try new experiences.
Prefer: brainstorming, problem-solving and competitions; will do well in group discussions and role-play situations.
- Theorists like to understand the theory before taking action. Taking a systematic approach, they like to analyse facts, models and conceptsin order to produce theories.
Prefer: modelling, using information such as statistics and quotes, applying theories and researching background information.
- Pragmatists are interested in the real-world application of what they learn. They like to experiment and are less at home with abstract concepts unless they can see their practical use.
Prefer: taking part in discussions and problem-solving exercises; case studies; working out how to apply learning in real-world situations.
- Reflectors learn by observation and reflection. They can be cautious, preferring to take their time to look at situations from various perspectives and to gather data before coming to conclusions.
Prefer: being coached, paired discussions, receiving feedback; questionnaires about personality and self-analysis, observing and taking time out.
Once you have a clearer idea of your learning style, you can use this knowledge to improve the way you learn, work and live.
How understanding your learning styles can help you with your learning
Whether you are at school, college or following an apprenticeship, the aim is to gather knowledge and skills. This might be through classroom, online or practical learning in the workplace. If you and your tutor understand your learning styles, your training can be adapted to best suit you.
For example, an Activist might struggle to sit for long periods in a classroom taking in information presented by a tutor. However, put them in a brainstorming session or allow them to try out an activity and they will find it easier to contribute and learn.
By contrast, a Theorist would not enjoy being thrown in at the deep end and would achieve more if given time to carry out research and work systematically through data.
A Pragmatist will not engage with learning if it appears too abstract and they can’t see how what they are being taught relates to the real world.
And finally, a Reflector needs to be given time to think and collect information, rather than being rushed into action. A tutor may need to give them more one-on-one coaching to help them progress.
How understanding your learning styles can help you with your career
The world of work can be a tricky place to navigate, especially if you are in a role that doesn’t suit your learning styles.
An Activist will do well in a fast-paced work environment where you have to think on your feet and react quickly to new situations, whereas a Theorist or a Reflector will thrive in roles where research and detail are important. A Pragmatist will excel when asked to problem-solve and find practical solutions to real-world situations.
We spend a large proportion of our lives at work and many people find themselves in a job that they don’t enjoy, which can be made more difficult if they are finding it difficult to learn new things because the process doesn’t suit their learning style. It’s also worth remembering that learning doesn’t stop when you leave education or complete an apprenticeship, but continues throughout your working life.
Taking the time to understand your learning styles will help you seek out a career that plays to your strengths. This will not only help you to succeed in your job, but will also give you a more satisfying work life.
How understanding your learning styles can help you in life
Awareness of your learning styles can impact many aspects of your life, for example, it will:
- Make you more likely to achieve your goals, boosting your self-confidence and self-worth
- Equip you with self-knowledge, so that you can recognise issues when they arise and deal with them accordingly
- Help you to succeed in your studies and your career, which will have an impact on your earning potential and living standards – as well as your overall happiness
- Allow you to communicate better with other people and explain to them why you like to take a particular approach
- Mean that you are more likely to succeed at tasks outside work, for example hobbies or DIY, especially if these involve group activity, such as sport, music or volunteering.
At CMS we want to see every student thrive, which is why we will work with you individually to identify your learning styles and to tailor your support accordingly.