ActivistsActivists 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-ended, not sceptical, and this tends to make them enthusiastic about anything new. Their philosophy is 'I will try anything once'. 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 make themselves the centre of all activities.
Activists learn best from novel experiences, from being encouraged to 'have a go' and from being thrown into things. They enjoy relatively short 'here and now' learning activities, like business games and competitive team exercises.
Activists learn least well from passive situations like reading, watching, or listening to lectures, particularly those on concept or theory. They do not enjoy solitary work, repetitive tasks, situations that require detailed preparation, or being asked to review their learning opportunities and achievements.
ReflectorsReflectors 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 any conclusion. These they postpone as long as possible. Their philosophy is to be cautious. They enjoy watching other people in action and prefer to take a back seat in meetings and discussions. They think before they speak. 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.
Reflectors learn best from activities where they are able to stand back, listen and observe. They like to have a chance to collect information and be given time to think about it before commenting or acting. They like to review what has happened.
Reflectors learn least well when they are rushed into things with insufficient data or without time to plan, when they are forced into the limelight by being required to role play or chair a meeting, or when asked to take shortcuts or do a superficial job.
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TheoristsTheorists 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 think problems through in a vertical, step-by-step, logical way. They tend to be perfectionists who will not rest easy until things are tidy and fit into a rational scheme. They are keen on basic assumptions, principles, theories, models and systems thinking. They tend to be detached, analytical and dedicated to rational objectivity. They feel uncomfortable with subjective judgements, ambiguity, lateral thinking and anything flippant.
Theorists learn best when they are offered a system, model, concept or theory, even when the application is not clear and the ideas may be distant from current reality. They like to work in structured situations with a clear purpose, and be allowed to explore associations and interrelationships, to question assumptions and logic and to analyse reasons and generalise. They like to be intellectually stretched.
Theorists learn least well when asked to do something without apparent purpose, when activities are unstructured and ambiguous, and when emotion is emphasised. They do not learn well when faced with activities lacking depth, when data to support the subject are unavailable and when they feel 'out of tune' with the rest of the group.
PragmatistsPragmatists 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 sorts of people who return from training courses bursting with new ideas, which they want to try out in practice. They like to get on with things and act quickly and confidently on ideas which 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, it's good'.
Pragmatists learn best when there is an obvious link between the subject matter and their current job. They like being exposed to techniques or processes, which are clearly practical, have immediate relevance and which they are likely to have the opportunity to implement. Pragmatists learn least well when there are no immediate benefits or rewards from the activity, and the learning events seem distant from reality.