Study Learning Style

Different people learn in different ways.

Some learn best by:

  • Listening to the presenter giving the information
  • Doing a project
  • Reading up on the theory
  • Watching a demonstration
  • Discuss with friends

Our preferred way of learning can be one or more of the following 7 intelligences:

  • Visual (spatial). prefers pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical). prefers sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic). prefers words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic). prefers using the body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical). prefers using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal). prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal). prefers to learn by themselves through self-study.

Every learner use a mixture of learning styles.

Generally we have a dominant learning style together with secondary styles which we use less of. The effective learner is one who can adopt their learning styles to suit the different circumstances. There is no perfect right mix as everyone can develop ability in using their less dominant styles.

Question for discussion: 

  • For the purpose of learning, is it possible to accelerate the speed and quality of learning by using the 7 intelligences?
  • Will knowing the learners’ preferred learning style helps us to tailor our delivery to help them learn better and faster?

Kolb Learning Styles

Kolb’s learning theory is based on learning from personal experience. There are four distinct learning preferences or styles around a four-stage learning cycle.

Kolb’s experiential learning cycle consists of:

  • The actual or ‘concrete experiences’ stage
  • The ‘reflective observation’
  • The ‘abstract conceptualizing’ stage
  • The ‘actively experimentation’ stage which leads to new concrete experiences

Kolb learning cycle is a cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting. If carried out diligently

will spiral into learning which is experiential in nature as the individual learner consciously experience, reflecting, think through and actively test out his/her concepts which in turn leads to more learning

Kolb’s learning model can be seen as a four-stage cycle:

  • Concrete Experience (CE)
  • Reflective Observation – (RO)
  • Abstract Conceptualization – (AC)
  • Active Experimentation – (AE)

combined with a four phase thinking and processing (learning) styles,

  • Diverging – feel and observe (CE/RO
  • Assimilating -think and observe (AC/RO)
  • Converging -think and do (AC/AE)
  • Accommodating – feel and do (CE/AE)

Interpret learning style

The visual (spatial) learning style

  • prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others.
  • can easily visualize objects, plans and outcomes in their mind’s eye.
  • have a good spatial sense, which gives them a good sense of direction. As a result they can easily find their way around using maps, and rarely get lost. When they walk out of an elevator, they instinctively know which way to turn.
  • Likes using flip charts and whiteboard to draw, scribble and doodle, especially with colors.
  • They typically have a good dress sense and color balance (although not always!)

The aural (auditory-musical-rhythmic) learning style

  • likes to work with sound and music. They have a good sense of pitch and rhythm.
  • Uses sound, rhyme, and music in their learning. Focus on using aural content in their association and visualization.
  • Use sound recordings to provide a background and help them get into visualizations. For example, use a recording of an aircraft engine running normally, playing loudly via a headset, to practice flight procedures
  • Use a recording of the sound of wind and water when visualizing sailing maneuvers

The verbal (linguistic) learning style

  1. likes both the written and spoken word
  2. can express themselves, both in writing and verbally
  3. love reading and writing.
  4. like playing on the meaning or sound of words, such as in tongue twisters, rhymes, limericks and the like.
  5. The verbal learner learns best with techniques that involve speaking and writing.

For example, let verbal learners talk themselves through procedures, or use recordings of the content for repetition

The physical (bodily-kinesthetic) learning style

  1. prefers use of their body and sense of touch to learn.
  2. like to think out issues, ideas and problems while exercising. You would rather go for a run or walk if something is bothering you, rather than sitting at home.
  1. Learn best by “getting their hands dirty,” or making models, or working out jigsaws
  2. They are more sensitive to the physical world around you.
  3. When learning a new skill topic, they would prefer to “jump in” and play with the physical parts as soon as possible.
  1. Prefer to pull engine apart and put back together, rather than reading or looking at duagrams about how it works.
  2. The thought of sitting in a lecture listening to someone else talk is repulsive.
  3. In those circumstances, you fidget or can’t sit still for long. You want to get up and move around

The logical (mathematical) learning style

  • use the logical style. Like using their brain for logical and mathematical reasoning.
  • can recognize patterns easily, as well as connections between seemingly meaningless content
  • prefer to classify and group information to help you learn or understand it.
  • work well with numbers and can perform complex calculations.
  • If you are a logical learner, aim to understand the reasons behind the content and skills.
  • they don’t just rote learn
  • understanding more detail behind the content helps them memorize and learn the material that they need to know.
  • explore the links between various systems, and note them down.
  • create and use lists by extracting key points from material

The social (interpersonal) learning style

  • have a strong social style and communicate well with people, both verbally and non-verbally
  • others listen to you or come to you for advice, and you are sensitive to their motivations,
  • feelings or moods. You listen well and understand other’s views. You may enjoy mentoring or counselling others.
  • Prefer learning in groups or classes, or like to spend much one-on-one time with a trainer.
  • Learn by bouncing their thoughts off other people and listening to how they respond.
  • Prefer to work through issues, ideas and problems with a group

The solitary (intrapersonal) learning style

  • is generally private, introspective and independent.
  • can concentrate well, focusing your thoughts and feelings on your current topic.
  • aware of their own thinking, and may analyze the different ways they think and feel.
  • Prefer to learn alone using self-study
  • Often clarify information they haven’t be able to clarify.
  • May dislike learning in groups

Kolb advocate that the three stages of a person’s development influences the individual in his preference of a particular learning style.

Kolb identified the developmental stages as:

  1. The Acquisition stage (Birth to adolescence) where one develop basic abilities and ‘cognitive structure’
  2. The Specialization stage (Schooling, early work and personal experiences of adulthood) where one develop the ‘specialized learning style’ as modified and shaped by ‘social, educational, and organization socialization’
  3. The Integration stage (Mid-career through to later life) where one develop the non-dominant
  4. Learning style in work and personal life

An individual learning style preference is the product of two different ‘choices’ that one make.

They are:

  1. Perception Choice (our emotional response. or how we think or feel about it) consisting of the Feeling Concrete ExperienceCE – Thinking Abstract ConceptualizationAC stages
  2. Processing Choice (how we approach a task) consisting of the Doing Active Experimentation – AE and the Observing/watching Reflective Observation – RO stages

Kolb calls these learning styles as ‘dialectically related modes’ of ‘grasping experience (doing or watching), and ‘transforming experience’ (feeling or thinking):

The styles are ‘dialectically’ or ‘conflicting’ denotes that one cannot do both at the same time.

Should we want to do both, conflict arise and we resolve it through a choice of doing or watching, and at the same time we decide whether to think or to feel.

The result of these two decisions produces (and helps to form throughout our lives) the preferred learning style, hence the two-by-two matrix below. We choose a way of ‘grasping the experience, which defines our approach to it, and we choose a way to transform the experience’ into something meaningful and usable, which defines our emotional response to the experience.

Our learning styles is a product of these two choice decisions:

  1. Approach a task through watching or doing i.e ‘grasping experience’ and
  2. Responding to the task through the emotional response of thinking or feeling e. ‘transforming experience’

In other words we choose our approach to the task or experience (grasping the experience) by

  1. Watching others involved in the experience and reflecting on what happens (‘reflective observation’–‘ watching’) or
  2. through Jumping straight n and just doing it (‘active experimentation’- ‘doing”)

And at the same time we choose how to emotionally transform the experience into something meaningful and useful by:

  1. gaining new information by thinking, analyzing, or planning (‘abstract conceptualization’- thinking’) or
  2. experiencing the ‘concrete, tangible, felt qualities of the world (‘concrete experience’-‘feeling’)


The combination of these two choices produces a preferred learning style.














An individual has an ‘Accommodating’ learning style when his preference is for ‘doing’ the task rather than ‘watching’ the activity, and ‘feeling’ rather than ‘thinking’ about the experience.

Knowing our own and our client / learner learning style enables learning to be approached from the preferred orientation and method. However, all of us can respond and use all types of learning styles. However it is more effective for a person when the learning style fits with the given situation.

Kolb’s Learning styles:

Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO)

Performs better in situations that t require ideas generation as in brainstorming. Tends to have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. They are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts. Prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback.

  • Sees things from different perspectives. They are sensitive.
  • Prefer to observe and watch rather than do
  • Tends to gather information
  • Use imagination to solve problems

Assimilating (watching and thinking-AC/RO)

People with an Assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. These learning style people is important for effectiveness in information and science careers. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.

  • Prefers a concise, logical approach.
  • Ideas and concepts are more important than people.
  • Wants clear explanation rather than practical opportunity.
  • Good at grasping wide-ranging information and organising it a clear logical format.

Converging (doing and thinking -AC/AE)

A Converging learning style enables specialist and technology abilities. People with a Converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.

  • Good at solving problems and make decisions as they use their learning to find solutions to practical issues.
  • Prefers technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects.
  • Good at finding practical uses for ideas and theories.

Accommodating (doing and feeling- CE/AE)

This learning style is prevalent and useful in roles requiring action and initiative. People with an Accommodating learning style prefer to work in teams to complete tasks. They set targets and actively work in the field trying different ways to achieve an objective.

  • Prefers a ‘hands-on’, and relies on intuition and ‘gut instinct rather than logical analysis.
  • Prefers to use other people’s analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach.
  • Attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans.

Generally we have a primary learning style and it is not easy to switch to another style easily.

When learning is oriented towards our preferred learning styles we tend to lean more effectively.

A ‘Assimilating’ learning style will not be comfortable being thrown in at the deep end without notes and instructions.

A ‘Accommodating’ learning style will be frustrated if they are forced to read lots of instructions and rules, and are unable to get hands on experience as soon as possible.

Peter Honey and Alan Mumford developed their learning styles system as a variation on the Kolb model while working on a project for the Chloride corporation in the 1970’s. they use the terms ‘activist’, ‘reflector’, ‘theorist, and ‘pragmatist’ (respectively representing the four key stages of Kolb’s model.

  1. ‘Having an Experience’ / Activists = Accommodating : Open minded, seek challenges and immediate experience, bored with implementation.
  2. ‘Reviewing the Experience’ / Reflectors = Diverging: listen before speaking, thoughtful, gather data, ponder and analyse, delay reaching conclusions.
  3. ‘Concluding from the experience’ / Theorists = Assimilating: think things through in logical steps, assimilate disparate facts into coherent theories, rationally objective, reject subjectivity and flippancy.
  4. ‘Planning the next steps, / Pragmatists = Converging: seek and try out new ideas, practical, down-to-earth, enjoy problem solving and decision-making quickly, bored with long discussions.