Learning Styles

Learning style refers to the ability of an individual to learn. A manager’s long-term success depends more on the ability to learn than on the mastery of the specific skills or technical knowledge.

Kolb’s Learning Styles Model

Kolb’s model of learning styles is one of the best-known and widely used learning style theories. Kolb’s learning theory sets out four distinct learning styles (or preferences), which are based on a four-stage learning cycle. Much of Kolb’s theory is concerned with the learner’s internal cognitive processes.

“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it.” (David A. Kolb, 1984).

These four learning styles are: accommodation, divergence, assimilation and convergence. The four learning styles are based on dimensions: feeling versus thinking and doing versus observing.

Learning Styles

  1. Accommodator: An accommodator learns by doing and feeling. He tends to learn primarily from hands-on experience. He tends to act on gut feeling rather than on logical analysis. An accommodator tends to rely more heavily on people for information while making decisions. He seeks action-oriented careers such as marketing, politics, public relations and management.
  2. Diverger: A diverger learns by observing and feeling. The diverger has the ability to view concrete situations from different angles. When solving problems, diverger enjoys brainstorming. He takes time and analyses many alternatives. Diverger is imaginative and sensitive to the needs of the other people. He seeks careers in entertainment, arts and services sector.
  3. Converger: A converger learns by doing and thinking. The converger seeks practical use for information. When presented with problems and making decisions, the converger tends to focus on solutions. Converger tends to prefer dealing with technical tasks and problems rather than social and interpersonal issues. Converger seeks technical careers in various scientific fields and work at engineering, production supervision, IT and managerial jobs.
  4. Assimilator: An assimilator learns by observing and thinking. The assimilator is effective at understanding a wide range of information and putting in to concise and logical form. It is more important for the assimilator that an idea or theory is logical than practical. Assimilator tends to be more concerned with abstract idea and concept than with people. He tends to seek careers in education, information and science.
Learning styleLearning characteristicDescription
  • Abstract conceptualization + active experimentation
  • Strong in practical application of ideas·
  • Can focus on hypo-deductive reasoning on specific problems
  • Unemotional·
  • Has narrow interests
  • Concrete experience + reflective observation
  • Strong in imaginative ability
  • Good at generating ideas and seeing things from different perspectives
  • Interested in people
  • Broad cultural interests
  • Abstract conceptualization + reflective observation
  • Strong ability to create theoretical models
  • Excels in inductive reasoning
  • Concerned with abstract concepts rather than people
  1. Concrete experience + active experimentation
  • Greatest strength is doing things
  • More of a risk taker
  • Performs well when required to react to immediate circumstances
  • Solves problems intuitively