Honey and Mumford Learning Styles

Peter Honey and Alan Mumford developed their learning based on the work of Kolb. Their preferred learning styles are Activist, Pragmatist, Theorist and Reflector. These are the learning approaches that individuals naturally prefer and they recommend that in order to maximise one's own personal learning each learner ought to:

  • Understand their learning style
  • Seek out opportunities to learn using that style
  • For people to understand their particular learning style

Honey and Mumford have developed a Learning Style questionnaire. By knowing your result it means you are able to learn better because you get a better fit between learning opportunities and the way you learn best.

This also makes your learning easier, more effective and more enjoyable.

You can become an all-round learner, increases your versatility and helps you learn from a wide variety of different experiences. You can improve your learning skills and processes, increased awareness of how you learn and opens up the whole process to self-scrutiny and improvement.

Learning styles

Activists are people who learn by doing.

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They need to get their hands dirty, dive in with both feet first. They have an open-minded approach to learning, involving themselves fully and without bias in new experiences.The activities they tend to use for learning are:

  • Brainstorming
  • Problem Solving
  • Group Discussion
  • Puzzles
  • Competitions
  • Role-play

Theorist learners like to understand the theory behind the actions. They need models, concepts and facts in order to engage in the learning process. They prefer to analyse and synthesise, drawing new information into a systematic and logical 'theory'.

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The activities they tend to use for learning are:

  • Models
  • Statistics
  • Stories
  • Quotes
  • Background Information
  • Applying Theories

Pragmatist learners need to be able to see how to put the learning into practice in the real world. Abstract concepts and games are of limited use unless they can see a way to put the ideas into action in their lives. They experiment, trying out new ideas, theories and techniques to see if they work. The activities they tend to use for learning are:

  • Time to think about how to apply learning in reality
  • Case Studies
  • Problem Solving
  • Discussion

Reflectors learn by observing and thinking about what happened. They avoid leaping in and prefer to watch from the side-lines. They prefer to stand back and view experiences from a number of different perspectives, collecting data and taking the time to work towards an appropriate conclusion. The activities they tend to use for learning are:

  • Paired Discussions
  • Self-analysis Questionnaires
  • Personality Questionnaires
  • Time Out
  • Observing Activities
  • Feedback from others
  • Coaching
  • Interviews
  • Learning style
  • Honey and Mumford definition


"Activists involve themselves fully and without bias in new experiences. They enjoy the here and now, and are happy to be dominated by immediate experiences. They are open-minded, not sceptical, and this tends to make them enthusiastic about anything new. Their philosophy is: "I'll try anything once". They tend to act first and consider the consequences afterwards.

Their days are filled with activity. They tackle problems by brainstorming. As soon as the excitement from one activity has died down they are busy looking for the next. They tend to thrive on the challenge of new experiences but are bored with implementation and longer term consolidation. They are gregarious people constantly involving themselves with others but, in doing so; they seek to centre all activities around themselves."


"Theorists adapt and integrate observations into complex but logically sound theories. They think problems through in a vertical, step-by-step logical way. They assimilate disparate facts into coherent theories. They tend to be perfectionists who won't rest easy until things are tidy and fit into a rational scheme. They like to analyse and synthesize. They are keen on basic assumptions, principles, theories models and systems thinking. Their philosophy prizes rationality and logic. "If it's logical it's good." Questions they frequently ask are: "Does it make sense?"

"How does this fit with that?" "What are the basic assumptions?" They tend to be detached, analytical and dedicated to rational objectivity rather than anything subjective or ambiguous. Their approach to problems is consistently logical. This is their 'mental set' and they rigidly reject anything that doesn't fit with it. They prefer to maximise certainty and feel uncomfortable with subjective judgements, lateral thinking and anything flippant."


"Pragmatists are keen on trying out ideas, theories and techniques to see if they work in practice. They positively search out new ideas and take the first opportunity to experiment with applications. They are the sort of people who return from courses brimming with new ideas that they want to try out in practice. They like to get on with things and act quickly and confidently on ideas that attract them. They tend to be impatient with ruminating and open-ended discussions. They are essentially practical, down to earth people who like making practical decisions and solving problems. They respond to problems and opportunities 'as a challenge'. Their philosophy is "There is always a better way" and "If it works its good"."


"Reflectors like to stand back to ponder experiences and observe them from many different perspectives. They collect data, both first hand and from others, and prefer to think about it thoroughly before coming to a conclusion. The thorough collection and analysis of data about experiences and events is what counts so they tend to postpone reaching definitive conclusions for as long as possible. Their philosophy is to be cautious. They are thoughtful people who like to consider all possible angles and implications before making a move. They prefer to take a back seat in meetings and discussions.

They enjoy observing other people in action. They listen to others and get the drift of the discussion before making their own points. They tend to adopt a low profile and have a slightly distant, tolerant unruffled air about them. When they act it is part of a wide picture which includes the past as well as the present and others' observations as well as their own."


Kolb's learning theory has four distinct learning styles which are based on a four stage learning cycle. The four learning styles are: Concrete Experience - A new experience of situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience. Reflective Observation - Of the new experience. Of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding. Abstract Conceptualization - Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept.

Active Experimentation - The learner applies them to the world around them to see what results. In this respect Kolb's theory is particularly elegant, since it offers both a way to understand individual people's different learning styles, and also an explanation of a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all.

Kolb explains that different people prefer different learning styles. Various factors influence a person's preferred style, in Kolb's experiential learning theory Kolb defined three stages of someone's development and suggests that our propensity to reconcile and successfully integrate the four different learning styles improves as we mature through our development stages.

The development stages that Kolb identified are:

Acquisition - birth to adolescence - development of basic abilities and 'cognitive structures'

Specialization - schooling, early work and personal experiences of adulthood - the development of a particular 'specialized learning style' shaped by 'social, educational, and organizational socialization'

Integration - mid-career through to later life - expression of non-dominant learning style in work and personal life. Kolb believes that effective learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages: of having a concrete experience followed by observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to the formation of abstract analysis and conclusions which are then used to test hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new experiences.

Kolb sees learning as an integrated process with each stage being mutually supportive of and feeding into the next. It is possible to enter the cycle at any stage and follow it through its logical sequence. The process of learning is influenced by a variety of personal factors. A thorough knowledge of these factors will help teachers and parents to understand and guide their child's learning. Some important factors that can have an influence on a person's learning are:

Fatigue and Boredom - It is more boredom than fatigue that affects students more.

The difference between the two is that fatigue is mental and physical tiredness which decrease in efficiency and competency to work. Boredom on the other hand is lack of desire to work.

Age and maturation - Learning is dependent upon age and maturation. Learning doesn’t take place unless the individual is matured enough to learn. Some children can learn better at an earlier age while others take more to learn the same content.

Interests - Various types of interests of the students can be exploited to facilitate their learning. Their interests during early infancy are mostly limited.

As a child grows their interests diversify and stabilize.

Motivation - Motivation is the heart if the learning process. It generates the will in an individual to do something. There are two types of motivation that are commonly recognized.

These are:

  • Intrinsic; this type of motivation arises when the resolution of the tension is to be found in mastering the learning task itself.
  • Extrinsic; this type of motivation occurs when a student pursues a learning task for reasons that are external. For example, if a student engages in construction of a model aero planes because they think it would please their father, who is an ex-pilot, rather than because of intrinsic motivation.


Intelligence is expressed by an IQ score on an intelligence test is positively related to learning. Generally students with a higher IQ learn rapidly however this is not always the case.

Aptitude - A student who possesses appropriate aptitude for a particular subject of study or skill will learn better and retain it for longer. On the other hand they will require relatively longer time to study a subject for which they lack natural aptitude.

Attitude - The learning process is also influenced considerably by the attitude of the student. If they are alert, attentive and interested in the material to be learnt. They are also bound to have a favourable attitude towards it. An attitude like that will enable them to tackle the learning situation economically, pleasantly and effectively.

Environmental factors - Surroundings; students may easily get distracted and lose interest in the lesson if they are sat around friends as they are more likely to socialise instead of learn. Relationships with teachers, parents and peers; Relationships are important as bad ones can lead to stress and other problems for example if the student has a bad relationship with their teacher they might act out and may lose interest in doing work so they fall behind and don’t learn the correct stuff.

Media; Media can be such a bad influence on most teenage students because of media such as social networking which can be easily accessed through their phone. This means they may be more tempted to use their phones during their lessons to use social networks such as Facebook or twitter. For example if that student is starting to lose interest in their lesson then they may be tempted to use their phones for that reason.

I think that there are a few of these factors that influence my own learning process. For me these factors are

  • Fatigue and Boredom
  • Age and maturation
  • Motivation
  • Attitude

Environmental factors

I always find that my surroundings and social networking have a massive influence on my learning as I tend to get distracted by people around me, my phone, internet and TV. I am more likely to let these distract me if I am bored or don’t have any motivation to do the work. Because of this I often find that I am behind and sometimes struggle with the work I am doing.

It’s important for people to learn the correct skills for learning so that our ability to understand and to help you gain the knowledge to increase your abilities to work to your full potential.

There are different ways of learning which are:

  • Observation
  • Questioning
  • Use of internet
  • Supervisors
  • Classroom
  • Work experience

Having these skills are important as they can make a person better because there is a range of skills that they can use to improve their overall knowledge. These skills impact my learning because of these I am able to improve on what I am taught by teachers by watching it in practice, asking questions to learn more about the subject of work, using the internet to research information about that subject of work, ask for help from teachers, learning supports and other students by asking other students it helps them as well as they get to go over what you are asking so it would tend to stick more. And by work experience so you get to learn while putting information to practice and this gives you opportunities to ask questions.

Cite this page

Honey and Mumford Learning Styles. (2016, May 07). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/honey-and-mumford-learning-styles-essay

Honey and Mumford Learning Styles
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