What type of learner are you?

Photo by Aw Creative on Unsplash

School is important, but big biceps are importanter”. This ironic funny quote gets me thinking, whichever its origins may be. I guess this might have been said by somebody who is way more attracted to short term results rather than results on the long run, or by someone who hasn’t found his/her own way of assimilating important information.

As the first assumption was already covered by Bogdan here , I’d like to take on the latter.

Learning can be indeed a difficult process. After all, it is a chemical wonder. You rewire your brain structure by creating new synapses. This can be a pleasant or a not-so-pleasant activity. What makes the difference? Well, it depends: whether you can find the joy of it or not.

How to find that joy? It’s easy, just do whatever you like and whatever makes sense to you. Remember, we are still talking about the learning process. The way I learn things can be very different than yours, but not unique. There are some repeating patterns there that define how I learn, how you learn and how others learn. Over the years, these patterns have been the study subject of many psychologists.

Personally, I follow the patterns identified by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford in Learning Styles when putting together my presentations for different workshops. Their work helps me focus on how to be able to get the attention of every type of person that might be in my audience. They managed to isolate 4 major groups of learners with similar traits:


These learners are energic and colorful people, who like going head on into the subject they’re studying. It’s a must for them to get their hands dirty since they like doing experiments themselves. Their favourite learning tools are brainstorming, problem solving, group discussion, puzzles, competitions, role-play. Usually, their philosophy is “fire, aim, ready” (!)


As the name suggest, these learners feed on the theoretical part of a situation. They always require models, definitions, concepts and facts. Very good analysts, who like to synthesise the information extracted systematically and logically, from the said theory. Their favourite learning tools are models, statistics, quotes, background information, applying theories. They are innate curious people who like to ask “why?”


These learners have a fun time in seeing how to apply the theories. Pure pragmatists have no concerns towards theories or activities, unless they are able to relate them to the real world. You could say they become activists only after they understand what to do with the theorist part. Their favourite learning tools are taking the time to think about how to apply learning in real life, solid case studies, problem solving.


Here comes the last (but not least) category. These learners are characterized by sitting quietly on the side and observing. They have a keen eye for detail, they are very good analysts and very patient. They tend to watch and learn from other’s experiences, after a thorough analysis of what just happened. They will act only after they have gathered enough data. Their favourite learning tools are paired discussions, time out, observing activities, feedback from others, coaching and interviews.

It is crucial to understand how these patterns work because they can help us customize our own (or others’) learning experience so that it brings more joy.

Here’s the Honey-Mumford test if you want to see what type of learner you are and understand more about your learning style:

In the end, all I’m trying to say is that big biceps don’t have to be “importanter“, but instead they can be just more important. Now you have more tools to help you do that.

Remember: be nice, have empathy, listen. Be human

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