Learning styles – definition and types of learning styles

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Definition of learning styles

Different people learn in different ways. These different ways are generally called learning styles. According to Stewart and Felicetti (1992), learning styles are those educational conditions under which a student is most likely to learn. These approaches are simply preferences people exhibit, not requirements of any kind. Coffield et al. (2004) has identified 71 models of learning styles. 13 out of the 71 models have been categorised as major models. Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory (LSI) and Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ) are widely known and used in the UK (Coffield et al. 2004). Another popular and widely used style is VARK model which was developed by Neil Fleming in 1987.

Kolb’s learning styles

Kolb (1984) believes learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Based on his experiential learning theory, he came up with four different styles namely diverger, assimilator, converger, and accommodator. Divergers are capable to look at things from different perspectives. Assimilators prefer a logical approach to learning. Convergers like to experiment with new ideas. Finally, accommodators like doing things, and get involved in new experiences.

Honey and Mumford’s learning styles

Honey and Mumford (1986) developed four different styles based on the work of Kolb. These styles are activists, reflectors, theorists, and pragmatists (Honey and Mumford, 1986a). Activists are people who learn by doing. Reflectors learn by observing and thinking about what happened. Theorists like to understand the theory behind the actions. Finally, pragmatists are keen on trying things out (Honey and Mumford, 1986a). It is worth mentioning that the writers suggest that people in general will follow one or two of the four  styles.

Neil Fleming’s learning styles

According to Neil Fleming’s model (1987), learners can be visual, auditory, reading & writing, Kinesthetic. Visual learners learn best by seeing. Auditory learners learn best by hearing information. Reading and writing learners prefer to take in information displayed as words. Finally, Kinesthetic (or tactile) learners learn best by touching and doing (Cherry, 2015)

The article publication date: 01 September 2016

Further Reading/References:

Coffield et al. (2004) Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: A systematic and critical review, available from http://sxills.nl/lerenlerennu/bronnen/Learning%20styles%20by%20Coffield%20e.a..pdf (Accessed 05 August 2015)

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Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.