During the 1970s Peter Honey and Alan Mumford studied and expanded upon David Kolb’s learning model. Honey and Mumford proposed that individuals needed to use one of four different learning styles in order to complete activities. These four styles include: activists, reflectors, pragmatists and theorists.
The activist learns by doing rather than seeing, reading or even listening. They seek out challenges and prefer to be working on hands-on problem solving. They will avoid repetition and even planning, preferring brainstorming and finding novel, new ideas to solve dilemmas.
A reflector is a learner who observes. This type of learner will reflect on what is occurring around them. They will avoid confrontation and watch from the sidelines A reflector collects as much information as possible prior to making a choice. Generally, they are seen as being “slow to make up their minds” (Pritchard, 2009, p44).
In contrast, a theorist prefers to adapt and integrate observations and collections of data. The theorist builds upon models, theories, concepts and facts to learn. These learners are uncomfortable with ambiguity and confusion. Order surrounds this learner.
Pragmatists enjoy experimenting with new information, theory and even techniques. They desire to see if something will work. They consistently “Look for the practical implications of new ideas or theories before making a judgement on their value” (Pritchard, 2009, p44). Unlike theorists, pragmatists have little use for theory and abstract ideas unless there is a practical use.
Pritchard, A. (2009). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom (2nd ed.). New York, NY:Routledge.
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.