Every student has their own individual methods and techniques for learning new information or revising for exams. Honey and Mumford (1992) proposed that there are four definitive “learning styles” that most students can associate with. It is important to be aware of, and understand, your own learning style. This understanding makes it easier to create essay plans or work schedules, and may help you to find the best method of revision and exam preparation for you.
The proposed learning styles are as follows:
You like to learn by doing things. You are happier with project work, and all kinds of active learning. You are less happy reading long papers, analysing data and sitting in lectures.
You are more cautious and like to weigh up all the issues before acting. When you make a decision, it is thought through. You are probably happy to work on a project, if you are given time to digest all the facts before making a decision. You dislike having work dumped on you and get worried by tight deadlines.
You like taking theories and putting them into practise and you need to see the benefit and relevance of what you are doing. If you are learning something you feel has no practical value, you lose interest. You may want to ask your tutor ‘why are we learning this?’ If you are a student who says ‘I don’t like this course as it is all theory’ then your learning preference is probably ‘pragmatist’ or ‘activist’.
You like to understand what is behind certain actions and enjoy working through issues theoretically in a well-structured way and whether you apply it or not doesn’t interest you as much. You may be the one to ask questions as to why and how something occurs. You dislike unstructured sessions and dislike it when you are asked to reflect on some activity or say what you felt about it.
The style you prefer can help you make choices about the way that you work. For example, when revising, a theorist may read over pages and pages of notes and journals to make sure they understand all of the information. An activist, on the other hand, may benefit from making bright and creative revision posters, or creating interesting and enjoyable games to learn important information.
You may definitively fall in to one single category. You may fall into two categories, or even find that you overlap between several. Whichever learning style(s) you think describes the way you learn can be very helpful with university education, and even outside academia.
Something to keep in mind when studying!
Honey, P. and Mumford, A., 1992. The manual of learning styles.