Do you want to learn more faster? Well you need to determine your learning style. Here’s how ….


An interesting post over on Zen Habits prompted me to dig out my occupational psychology notes, specifically those to do with effective learning.

Leo is an advocate of the “just do it approach”, but that may not always be appropraite.

Consider, for example, the David Kolb model based on Experiential Learning Theory, as explained in his book Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development

Our learning style is a based on your preferences in approaching a task and how you respond to the experence.

So do you prefer gaining new information by thinking, analyzing, or planning (‘abstract conceptualization’ – ‘thinking‘) or through experiencing the ‘concrete, tangible, felt qualities of the world’ (‘concrete experience’ – ‘feeling’)?

Then do you prefer to watch others involved in the experience and reflecting on what happens (‘reflective observation’ – ‘watching’) or just  ‘jump straight in’ and just doing it (‘active experimentation’ – ‘doing’)?

According to Kolb’s model, the ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. For learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated.

As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach.

The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual’s preferred approaches. This adds additional dimensions to the basic cycle presented:


Learning Styles

These learning styles are as follows:

  1. Converger;
  2. Diverger;
  3. Assimilator;
  4. Accomodator;
  • Convergers are characterized by abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. They are good at making practical applications of ideas and using deductive reasoning to solve problem
  • Divergers tend toward concrete experience and reflective observation. They are imaginative and are good at coming up with ideas and seeing things from different perspectives
  • Assimilators are characterized by abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. They are capable of creating theoretical models by means of inductive reasoning
  • Accommodators use concrete experience and active experimentation. They are good at actively engaging with the world and actually doing things instead of merely reading about and studying them.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Tracks VergeStrengths

  • imaginative thinker
  • uses own experience
  • looks at situations from many different perspectives
  • brings coherence to a mass of information
  • sees relationships between things, grasps the whole picture
  • wide-ranging interests
  • good at listening and sharing
  • likes to get involved in the experience/information directly and then reflect on it
  • enjoys brainstorming and generation of ideas/altematives
  • likes social interaction/discussion/group work
  • aware of people’s feelings
  • wants to see the whole picture before examining the parts


  • frustrated by action plans
  • waits too long before getting started
  • easily distracted
  • can be too easy going
  • sometimes indecisive
  • cannot see the trees for the wood
  • forgets important details
  • only works in bursts of energy



  • precise
  • good at creating theoretical models
  • very thorough
  • sets clear goals
  • enjoys ideas and thinking them through
  • analytical, logical
  • interested in facts and details
  • applies theories to problems/situations
  • good at bringing different theoretical viewpoints to critique a situation
  • examines facts carefully
  • likes collecting data
  • sequential thinker
  • specialist interest
  • avid reader
  • uses past experience constructively
  • sees links between ideas
  • thinks things through
  • well organised
  • plans in advance
  • enjoys didactic teaching
  • happy to rework essays/notes
  • works well alone


  • needs too much information before starting work or giving opinion
  • reluctant to try anything new
  • likes to do things in a set way, lets go of the past reluctantly
  • gets bogged down in theory
  • does not trust feelings, trusts only logic
  • needs to know what the experts think
  • overcautious, will not take risks
  • not very comfortable in group discussion
  • does not make use of friends/teachers as resources


Hit The RoadStrengths

  • practical application of ideas
  • decisive
  • integrates theory and practice
  • enjoys solving problems in a common-sense way
  • likes to try things out
  • feels happiest when there is a correct answer/solution
  • draws references from experience
  • good  at using skills and tinkering with things
  • focuses clearly on specific problems
  • able to see where theory has any practical relevance
  • moves from parts to whole
  • thorough
  • works well alone
  • goal setting and action plans
  • strategic thinking
  • knows how to find information
  • gets things done on time
  • not easily distracted
  • organises time well
  • systematic notes/files
  • reads instructions carefully


  • intolerant of woolly ideas
  • not always patient with other people’s suggestions
  • resents being given answers
  • tends to think their way is the only way of doing something
  • needs to control and do it alone
  • details get in the way sometimes, cannot see the wood for the trees
  • not good at suggesting altematives/lacks imagination
  • getting the job done sometimes overrides doing it well
  • not concerned very much about presentation of work
  • needs to know how things they are asked to do will help in real life


Danger, Will Robinson!Strengths

  • testing experience, trial and error
  • committed to action
  • very flexible
  • wide-ranging interests
  • enjoys change, variety
  • willing to take risks
  • looks for hidden possibilities and excitement
  • not worried about getting it wrong by volunteering/asking questions
  • gets others involved
  • learns from others, quite prepared to ask for help
  • gets involved in something which sparks their interest
  • uses gut reactions
  • often gets right answer without logical justification
  • wants to see whole picture before examining the parts


  • tries too many things at once
  • tends not to plan work
  • poor time management, leaves things till the last minute
  • not very interested in details
  • does not check work or rework it
  • jumps in too quickly without thinking things through
  • sometimes seen as pushy.

Which learning style are you?

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CEO Bernard Sandoval of Sandia has developed a check-list for his employers based on some of the principles in Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Work Week.

Download it here

In the book Ferriss uses the acronym DEAL for the four main chapters. It stands for: Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation.

  1. Definition means to figure out what a person wants, get over fears, see past society’s “expectations”, and figure out what it will really cost to get where a person wants to go.
  2. Elimination is about time management, or rather about not managing time. This is achieved applying the 80/20 rule to focus only on those tasks that contribute the majority of benefit. There’s a difference, Ferriss says, between efficiency and effectiveness. The book’s emphasis is on effectiveness.
  3. Automation is about building a sustainable, automatic source of income. This includes techniques such as drop-shipping, automation, Google Adwords and Adsense, and outsourcing.
  4. Liberation is dedicated to the successful automation of one’s lifestyle and the liberation from a geographical location and job. Incidentally, Ferriss notes that if somebody has a regular job, the order of steps will be DELA, not DEAL.

The book asserts that technology such as email, instant messaging, and Internet-enabled PDAs complicate life rather than simplify it.[4][5] It advocates hiring virtual assistants from developing countries such as India to free up personal time.

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How does colour affect performance?

If you’re wondering what colour to paint your room, consider red – unless you’re planning to write a novel, that is, in which case blue might be a better option.

These are the conclusions of a study published in the journal Science, which found that:

  • the colour red spurs people to work more efficiently, while
  • blue aids creativity.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia set six psychological tests to 600 volunteers. In one, they had to remember a list of words, a task they performed better when the background colour on their computers was red than when it was blue. Another test required them to think of as many uses as they could for a pile of bricks; while the scores were similar regardless of the colour of background, a blue background prompted more unusual and imaginative ideas.

According to Dr Juliet Zhu, who led the study, the effects were likely to be due to cultural, as well as natural, associations.

“Thanks to stop signs, emergency vehicles and teachers’ red pens, we associate red with danger, mistakes and caution,” she said.

“[This] makes us vigilant and helps us perform tasks where careful attention is required to produce a right or wrong answer.”

Blue, by contrast, was thought to evoke images of the sea or sky, and relax people into a creative mood.

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