Honey and Mumford Learning Styles

I’ve completed many of these types of individual assessments and group ones in my time. They are always useful to take a benchmark of where you are currently at in regards to a certain criteria. What is the most interesting, is that I’ve kept a lot of my results over years and I take the change in results to mean, to evidence that self awareness is key to personal development and learning. If I hadn’t taken the tests, I’d have remain oblivious to my preferences and like Bourner (1996) would proport, such ignorance would stop me from changing and learning.

The Honey and Mumford Learning Styles questionnaire, is based on the work of Kolb. Via this questionnaire, it enables you to identify your learning style as either a Reflector, a theorist, an activist or a pragmatist. They consider through awareness of your preferred learning style, you can exploit it in order to learn more effectively. You can also engage in situations to improve, areas of learning, you’re not so brilliant at.

Awareness of my learning style is paramount to developing effective behaviour and learning (Kearsley 2005). Such awareness enables me to question why I learn best a certain way and challenge why certain things and situations just don’t work for me. Moreover, knowing your preferences and comparing them to others, has made me realise, where at one point, I would argue that MY way of work is the “right” way and the most effective, that there is no right or wrong way to work. Especially if we relate it back to team learning, there needs to be an element of compromise and open mindedness to advance the learning of the group, even though we may have very different preferences.

Score 2013 – October

Reflector – 12 – moderate preference

Theorist – 12 – moderate preference

Pragmatist – 9 – moderate preference

Activist – 7 – Low preference

Previous questionnaires I’ve taken I usually score extremely high as a Reflector and as a theorist. Over the years, I’ve taken this test three times with a year or so a part and I’ve seen my scores drastically change.  But as a self accepted reflector, to me this means I like to observe, review, reflect, explore. I can be quite introverted and considered until I have developed my point of view. However, like with all these questionnaires, they try and pigeon hole everyone into a neat box. Being labelled a reflector, Honey and Mumford would consider I don’t like being a leader and I hate deadlines. I couldn’t disagree with this more, I’ve always thrived under pressure and structured deadlines, as i see them as goal points. But what I do need in order to thrive, is a clear plan and to feel prepared and in control. I don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end, but this has come from experience and confidence, as I’ve grown older.

As a theorist, they would consider i work best in structured situations with a purpose, being offered interesting concepts to explore, probing and question and situations where my skills and expertise can be put to good use. I do agree with this highly, since I’ve grown older though, I have adapted this in many respects. I no longer need structured situations with a purpose to be given to me, I can impose them on myself because I recognise I work best in this format. However, i am flexible enough to understand that those around me, don’t always work well with this structured, goal orientated type of work. I thrive in complicated situations, situations which are highly challenging, things I can’t wait to attack. More over, I love to question, as I love to learn and to understand. I am a logical thinking and I like to grasp the theory and reasoning behind something. This is one of the reasons, I disliked maths at school, I’d spend hours with my Dad furiously not understanding things and it wasn’t until I could grasp not only that an equation worked, but why it worked, that I would more forward. Hence, i constantly, seek out patterns, as a form of understanding. Honey and Mumford would consider I hate working within unstructured, emotional environments, and dislike working with people with different learning styles. I would agree to an extent, but this is an area that I recognise is MY personal learning preference and I consider it to be, but I’ve had to adapt and learn to be more flexible. I can feel out of tune with people, but this makes me want to engage more, than less. It also makes me interested, to observe their way of learning in an objective manner.

Therefore, with these reflections on my current learning preferences, I’m not at all surprised to see my scores reduce as a reflector and as a theorist as I don’t quite a neatly fit into that description as I once did, where I’m now only with a moderate preferences to them. This was further evidenced with my difficulty in deciding whether I agreed with a statement or not, as I’m now able to adapt my learning preferences in certain situations, whilst remaining efficient. I’ve also been able to embrace the other preferences to a certain extent, so that I can be a more effective learner.

This is also further evidences in my declining score as a pragmatic learner. I think this is representative of the confidence I possess within my own skills and experience. As a pragmatist, I very much used to struggle to be creative, think outside the box, I looked to others for inspiration and guidance. Furthermore, I was also a rather selfish learner and had to see a personal benefit in doing something, I disengaged within team learning if I didn’t feel any reward and I was a stickler for the rules and following guidelines. This is very much an area, I’ve been able to blow out the water, through questioning myself and my responses. I’m now a real risk taker, leader, confident in my own ideas and other people’s new ideas, I don’t need guidance and because I now understand the greater value, in team work in the long term, I don’t disengage. But the strengths of my pragmatism can be very useful, when it comes to pulling big picture ideas down to earth and making them into a practical plan, once which can see the big picture idea come into fruition. Consequently, my pragmatic view point makes it no surprise that I’m not really an activist.

However, I was shocked to see that where years ago, my activist score was extremely low and suggested I had no real preference towards that type of learning. It has risen, to a low preference. I’ve always been extremely jealous of activists and their ability to just get out there and do it, a level of fearlessness. I work well alongside an activist as we compliment each other. Due to my low score years ago, I endeavoured to throw myself into more new uncomfortable situations, to ignore that internal “freak out”, I can sometimes have if a plan isn’t to the letter, grasping opportunities and most importantly to be open minded. Through practice and seeing the benefits for myself and the team, I’ve embraced more of an activist approach. Especially when working within a team, I’m more able to let go and see the value in mistakes. If I had an ideal of how I’d like to be, it would most certainly embrace more activism, as I believe activists learn more practical things and have a greater experience. Where as, I have a tendency to get stuck in the perfection of the plan.

Consquently, I believe my broader spread of scores is hopefully representative of my personal development due to self awareness. Whilst I will never be able to change my natural leaning to a certain way, I have learnt to exploit it, but to also be more open to other’s way of working and try new things. Things that at first look, I’d have dismissed out of hand, things like leadership, getting stuck into a project, trying new things regardless of worrying about failure and mistakes………things that I’ve actually learnt a lot about.

This can be perfectly evidenced by a situation a year ago. I ended up pitching to Deloitte for investment to back a scheme I’d developed. My line manager, had not briefed me in any shape or form and told me, I was merely attending the meeting the represent our organisation and to contribute to discussion. When I got there, I was suddenly called upon to deliver my scheme pitch and progress so far. The reflector in me felt completely unprepared and exposed to a room full of important people. I like to be considered and consider all posibilities in term of questioning, so I can come across well. The pragmatistic in me was worried, I didn’t have a fully concrete plan, i didn’t have it nailed down to my standards. But my inner activitist, realised this was my one opportunity, i had to take it and run with it. I was passionate about my scheme, I knew my figures and it was my creation. So I got up in front of a room of suited investors and “blagged” it. I didn’t have a “presentation”, instead they had a confident girl selling them a scheme that had been considered, had mutual benefits and I was able to bounce off the questions, will real time responses, (something I discovered I’m actually quite good at). In the end, Deloitte loved it and I am 100% sure due to my nervousness public speaking and over preparing nature, it came across ironically, a lot better being unprepared, as it was fight or flight.

However, I’m more resolute, to accept the way I work and that as one person, I can’t (nor do I want to), do everything. The most effective way of learning, is to learn with your opposite, someone who you mutually compliment, someone you can learn from. I don’t profess to know the “best” way to do things, but I’m sure others have the key to a “better” way.


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