Learning styles


For our first assignment of the semester we were asked to take a learning test to see how we learn best. We were given a choice of an online questionnaire or a written questionnaire to fill out which would then analyse our learning skills. My results came back as: Activist - Very strong, Reflector - Moderate, Theorist - Very low and Pragmatist - Very low. Below are the meanings of the different types of learning.


Activists like to be involved in new experiences and are enthusiastic about new ideas. They enjoy doing things and tend to act first and consider the implications afterwards. They are unlikely to prepare for the learning experience or review their learning afterwards.

Activists learn best when:

  • involved in new experiences
  • problems and opportunities
  • working with others in team tasks or role-playing
  • being thrown in the deep end with a difficult task
  • chairing meetings, leading discussions

Activists learn less when:

  • listening to lectures or long explanations
  • reading, writing or thinking on their own
  • absorbing and understanding data
  • following precise instruction to the letter


Reflectors like to view the situation from different perspectives. They like to collect data, review and think carefully before coming to any conclusions. They enjoy observing others and will listen to their views before offering their own.

Reflectors learn best when:

  • observing individuals or groups at work
  • reviewing what has happened and thinking about what they have learned
  • producing analyses and reports doing tasks without tight deadlines

Reflectors learn less when:

  • acting as leader or role-playing in front of others
  • doing things with no time to prepare
  • being thrown in at the deep end
  • being rushed or worried by deadlines


Theorists like to adapt and integrate observations into complex and logically sound theories. They think problems through step- by-step. They tend to be perfectionists who like to fit things into a rational scheme.

Theorists learn best when:

  • put in complex situations where they have to use their skills and knowledge
  • they are in structured situations with clear purpose
  • they are offered interesting ideas or concepts even though they are not immediately relevant
  • they have the chance to question and probe ideas

Theorists learn less when:

  • they have to participate in situations which emphasise emotion and feelings
  • the activity is unstructured or briefing is poor
  • they have to do things without knowing the principles or concepts involved
  • they feel they're out of tune with the other participants, for example people with different learning styles


Pragmatists are eager to try things out. They like concepts that can be applied to their job. They tend to be impatient with lengthy discussions and are practical and down to earth.

Pragmatists learn best when:

  • there is a link between the topic and job
  • they have the chance to try out techniques
  • they are shown techniques with obvious advantages such as saving time
  • they are shown a model they can copy

Pragmatists learn less when:

  • there is no obvious or immediate benefit that they can recognise
  • there is no practice or guidelines on how to do it
  • there is no apparent benefit to the learning
  • the event or learning is 'all theory'

Source: A. Mumford (1997), How to manage your learning environment

After reading what a activist meant I could immediately relate that to my learning skills. For example being thrown in the deep end with a difficult task, I don't like to be thrown into these situations but I do find after that I have learned a lot. I find it difficult to learn listening to long lectures as I get bored of sitting listening I would rather get involved in group activities. If anything I would like to have a bit more of a reflector in me and be able to look back on work and learn from it.
Our group met up to go over our results and see what we thought each other would be.
My group thought I would have been a pragmatist as when they think of my work they see that I like doing different pieces that are quite out there. I like to relate the topic to my practice and eager to try things out.
This surprised me as I got a very low result for pragmatist. I could understand how they came to this conclusion, we talked over and came to the decision that our guesses for each other were mainly based on they way we work and not how we learn. Also that we weren't sure how to answer some questions such as how we acted in meetings, most of us felt that in small meetings we would be confident but large lectures we would be less confident.
The rest of my group were quite varied in their results; Ross's results were Activist and pragmatist very strong, Claire - Very strong activist, Frances - Moderate reflector.
So we have quite a balanced group two of our group members were unable to make the meeting we thought they might be a theorist and reflector so overall we have a quite balanced group. I think we will be able to work well together and help each other learn in different ways.

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