These are the four adult-learning styles - Which one are you?
There are four distinct learning types. Which one are you? Source: Solis Images/Shutterstock

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how we learn. Each of us has our own unique strengths and weaknesses. Different methods work better with different people.

Appreciating the value of tailored learning methods, researchers Peter Honey and Alan Mumford developed a study in the 1980s to figure out the main types of adult learners.

Through a crafter questionnaire, the pair were able to identify four distinct styles in which adults learn and retain information.

Figuring out which category you fall into can help you make better use of your revision time and tailor your learning to suit you.

Which one are you?

Source: Giphy


Theorists like models, concepts and facts. These help them engage in the learning process, allowing them to analyse and compile information to form logical conclusions.

They prefer to understand the theory behind the actions, rather than carrying out the action themselves.

Best learning methods: statistics, models, theories, background information, stories


Activists learn by doing. They need to get their hands dirty to get a good grasp of the information and see it in action.

They tend to have an open-minded approach to learning and engage well with group-learning projects.

Best learning methods: group discussion, role play, brain teasers, problem-solving, competitions


Getting your head around abstract concepts can be tricky if you’re a pragmatist. They like to see how learning can be put into practice and how it applies to the real world.

They like to experiment and try out new ideas to see if they work in practice. And they tend to want to do this quickly, excitedly and confidently with ideas that interest them.

This love of application of ideas means they are no fan of long-winded and open-ended discussions, preferring action over talk.

Best learning methods: Case studies, problem-solving, real-life uses


If you’re prone to sitting back, observing and thinking about what happened from many different perspectives, you’re likely a reflector.

They like to have all the data on hand, and consider everything thoroughly before reaching a conclusion.

Caution tends to trump decisiveness, weighing up all implications before acting. This can be beneficial as they listen to others and have a deep understanding before making their own points. When they do act, it is with an idea of the bigger picture, based on other’s observations as well as their own.

Best learning methods: Paired discussions, self-analysis, time out to think, feedback from others.

Source: Giphy

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

Influential institutions that combine experiential learning with creative education

International Schools: Driving innovation and transformative learning experiences