In How You Learn Is How You Live: Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform Your Life, we identify nine approaches to learning and life. These styles are dynamic ways of navigating the learning cycle, emphasizing some parts of the cycle over others. Learning styles are not traits or pigeonholes; they are more like a habit or steady state. Thus, styles are self-reinforcing; we find a sweet spot in the way we navigate the learning cycle and continue to perfect that approach. We lead with our preferred style and default to it when we are on automatic pilot or under stress.
Learning styles also provide a framework for understanding others whose approaches are different from yours. They are effective in helping to guide team learning.
Your Learning Style can be assessed by the Kolb Experiential Learning Profile. The assessment identifies your personal preferred Learning Style, as well as your Learning Flexibility, that is, your ability to use back-up styles based upon the context and situation.
Initiates action to influence others and seek new opportunities. In Initiating style one networks, thinks on his or her feet and takes risks to commit to a new course of action.
Finds meaning from deep involvement in experience and relationships. In Experiencing style one is aware of emotions, sensation and intuition, and enjoys being in relationships.
Creates meaning by observing and reflecting on experiences. In Imagining style one is receptive to many ideas and people, engages in possibility thinking and appreciates diversity.
Takes goal-directed action that balances accomplishments with relationships. In Acting style, one implements a plan and acts to get things done on time.
Weighs the pros and cons of acting versus reflecting and experiencing versus thinking. In Balancing style one identifies blind spots in a total situation, bridges differences between people, and flexibly adapts to shifting priorities.
Connects experience and ideas through sustained reflection. In Reflecting style one observes, takes multiple perspectives and waits to act until certain of the outcome.
Converges to choose one course of action to solve problems and achieve practical results. In Deciding style one sets performance goals, evaluates progress toward achieving them, and takes a stand.
Has capacity for disciplined involvement in abstract reasoning, mathematics and logic. In Thinking style one uses hard data to analyze solutions, frames arguments with logic and uses critical thinking.
Integrates and systematizes ideas through reflection. In Analyzing style one plans ahead to minimize mistakes, integrates information to get the full picture, and uses theories and models to test assumptions.