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What is your learning style? - CITI
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What is your learning style?

No, not your dress sense – I’m referring to what is your learning style. Why? Because when it comes to your personal professional development – it matters.

Matching the right learning approach to what is your learning style pays real dividends. It accelerates your learning, makes applying it in your day-to-day role much easier, and is far more enjoyable!

Have you found yourself plodding through an online learning package and thinking, “When will it ever end?” or “This is just wasting my time”, and deciding it’s useless. Actually it may not be the package – it may just be that you are an ‘activist‘ or ‘pragmatist’ when it comes to learning.

Or, perhaps you’ve taken part in a ‘live’ situation workshop and found that there isn’t time to assimilate all the information and make it meaningful – making the workshop seem poorly planned and of little value to you. It may be that in fact the problem lies not with the workshop but that you are an individual that has a ‘theorist’ or ‘reflector’ approach to learning – and the approach adopted is just not right for you.

Unless you are aware of Honey and Mumford’s work in 1986 the ‘activist’ and ‘theorist’ labels may not mean much, but bear with me a moment longer. Can you recognise yourself in any of the following statements?

What is your learning style?

  • You like

    • new experiences
    • interacting with others, team games
    • leading discussions

  • You don't like

    • simply listening to others
    • reading or learning on your own
    • following detailed instructions

This sounds like me! Click here to see your learning style!
What is your learning style - Activist


You like to be fully involved in new and challenging practical activities.

  • Stretching assignments
  • Live situation workshops
  • Action learning
  • You like

    • observing others
    • taking time to review / reflect
    • producing reports

  • You don't like

    • role playing
    • rushed tasks / tight deadlines
    • being given tasks with no  support

This sounds like me! Click here to see your learning style!
Learning style - Reflector


You like to think things through, prepare for activities and formulate opinions without pressure of deadlines

  • Self-directed study
  • Feedback
  • Reflect and learn workshops
  • You like

    • structure and clear purpose
    • questioning new concepts
    • situations where you are able to analyse and draw logical conclusions

  • You don't like

    • unstructured activities
    • being in groups with others with different learning approaches
    • carrying out tasks without first knowing the concepts

This sounds like me! Click here to see your learning style!
Learning style - Theorist


You question and explore the logic behind assumptions, allowing time to assimilate ideas

  • Seminars / workshops to share experiences
  • Lessons learned sessions
  • On-line learning
  • You like

    • having a clear link between learning
      and your job
    • trying out techniques through case studies and role play
    • new techniques with a practical outcome
      (e.g. time saving)

  • You don't like

    • undertaking a task where there is
      no clear benefit
    • learning which is all theoretical
      and no practice
    • learning with no guidelines for
      its practical application

This sounds like me! Click here to see your learning style!
Learning style - Pragmatist


You see a direct link between the training and the job, and put plans into practice

  • Coaching
  • Lunch and learn sessions
  • Using current work to extend development

If you can see yourself in one of the above then you have already taken your first step towards understanding what is your learning style. Your ‘likes’ suggest the type of learning that is likely to work best for you. I have added a few ideas to start you thinking.

And of course you can mix and match:

  • activists and pragmatists often make great coaches by sharing practical examples
  • theorists and reflectors make great networkers.


To make the most of what is your learning style and development opportunities, wherever possible, try using an approach that matches your preferred style, for at least part of your development.

Of course I realise you can’t always pick and choose when it comes to learning, but where you can, as far as possible, think about the type of person you are, your style and what will be the most effective for you.   And where you can’t – improvise!

For example, you are on a formal course.  If you are a reflector make sure you spend time on the way home or in the evening thinking about what you have learned.  If you’re a pragmatist spend time thinking about which elements will work for you and you will share with your colleagues.  Make it work for you!

And finally, as you can see from the examples above, there is a much wider choice out there than perhaps you had considered and there really is something for everyone – particularly when you consider  the ‘experience based’ approaches which are becoming more readily available.

If you disagree, or would like to extend the debate, please drop me a line.  You can contact me at:

Below you can access some of my other blogs written on similar and related topics:

  • No, not your dress sense - I’m referring to your learning style. Why? Because when it comes to your personal professional development......

  • There appears to be three factors that demand special attention to enable organisations to make the best use of the evolving agile approaches to delivery and change management....

  • A perfect storm of circumstances in UK public sector project management is helping open the door to agile methods, and the promise of PRINCE2 Agile....


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