Practice and Portfolio Learning and personality styles

Learning and Personality Styles

This module introduces students to the approaches to learning and different learning styles. It provides material on the learning process and introduces Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (1984). It then extends to include content on personality, and introduces some of the key psychological theorists in the area. It outlines the history of how personality traits were identified, categorised, explored and tested by these theorists. The module concludes by discussing the important connections between learning styles and personality.

Activities are included throughout to allow students to explore their own preferred learning style/s and personality types, largely through tests, quizzes, questionnaires, and inventories.


The objectives of this module are that participants will be able to:

  • Understand the approaches to learning
  • Determine how they learn best, their preferred learning style, and what this means
  • Develop an understanding of the xperiential learning process and key theories
  • Develop an understanding of personality types and commonly used tests
  • Understand the connections between learning styles and personality


  • Reflect on their preferred learning style and the potential implications of this on their education, career and personal development
  • Reflect on their dominatnt strengths and personality type/s and the implication of this on their future development
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the experiential learning process and how to apply Kolb's (1984) theory
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between learning style and personality and what it means in the learning process

Learning is a developmental process that integrates thinking and doing. It provides a link between the past and the future, requiring us to look for meaning in our actions and giving purpose to our thoughts. Learning enriches what we do as individuals and collectively.

“The process of making a new or revised interpretation and meaning of an experience, which guides subsequent understanding, appreciation and action.” Mezirow (1990)

This section is to help you firstly consider how you learn and why it is important to understand your individual learning process. This is so you can then evaluate what you have learnt and record in your e-portfolio. Engaging in this process should enable you to improve your knowledge and understanding of how we grow and develop.

How do we learn?
“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it”. Kolb (1984,41)

It is important to recognise how we individually learn before we embark upon the process of reflection. We all have a preference as to how we approach learning, some of us like to actually take part and learn from experience whilst others like to read and prepare well before we learn.

The following video clip verbally describes the process of experiential learning (3:53) as an artist sketches the process and we recommend students watch this to gain a basic understanding of the main concepts.

Experiential Learning | 3:53 mins

The cycle of experiential learning developed by Kolb (1984) forms the basis of a model for reflective practice. Effective learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages: of (1) having a concrete experience followed by (2) observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to (3) the formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and generalizations (conclusions) which are then (4) used to test hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new experiences.

The experience involves doing something. This may be something deliberate and intended or something unintentional. The intended experience may work out as planned or not. Reflecting involves returning to the experience, re-examining, and making sense of it. Learning involves generalising from the experience in order to improve future action. Planning is the link between past experience and future action. It involves using your learning to predict what needs to happen to achieve your goals.

Figure 1 Kolb's, Experiential Learning cycle (Kolb, 1984)

Kolb's learning theory (Kolb & Fry, 1974) sets out four distinct learning styles, which are based on a four-stage learning cycle (see Figure 1). Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style. Various factors influence a person's preferred style.

Learning Styles

Learning styles are points along a scale that help us to discover the different forms of mental representations; however, they are not good characterisations of what people are or are not like. We should not divide the population into a set of categories (i.e., visual and auditory learners). What these various instruments attempt to do is to allocate a person on some point on a continuum (similar to measuring height or weight). In other words, do not pigeonhole yourself as we are all capable of learning under almost any style, no matter what our preference is.

You should identify your personal learning style that is best for you, but remember an over-reliance on one's learning style across all your learning experience is actually harmful, thus you need to select the best style or modality for the task on hand. That is, when the learner chooses his or her preferred learning style, then that learner should be asking, "Is this really the best learning style for me to use, or would another one work better?"

If you’re able to use your natural learning style and identify what style best suits a particular learning style, you’re likely to find learning much easier and quicker.

Recommended Learning Activities

Please follow one of the links below and identify your preferred learning style.

Learning Style Test

The Vark Questionnaire

Learning Styles

Self Assessments

Now you have considered your learning style, note in your e-portfolio: what is your most dominant learning style? Please include examples to illustrate when you have or might use this style (Table 1 is an example of how you might record this). Consider the advantages and disadvantages for you of being aware of your learning style preference at a personal level and an educational level.

Please proceed to part 2 of this module


Created with images by Wilfred de Kok - "Portfolio photo" • PublicDomainPictures - "baby boy child" • jill111 - "stack of books vintage books book" • Wokandapix - "learn word scrabble" • teamstickergiant - "Learning" • Unsplash - "person reading studyin" • Mimzy - "back to school pencils rainbow"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.