When it comes to assessing learning styles, at present many instruments are used in both academic and professional contexts. Among them you find KLSI (Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory) and Honey & Mumford’s LSQ (Learning Styles Questionnaire). Regarding ESL, Reid’s (1984) Perceptual Learning Styles Preference Questionnaire was the first to be designed for this particular field, at university level (Wintergerst, DeCapua & Verna, 2002). However, since we’re focusing on Honey and Mumford Learning Styles, we’ll consider here the instrument they designed to ascertain individuals’ Learning Styles – the Learning Style Questionnair.
Peter Honey, a psychologist who specialized as management consultant, and Adam Mumford, with experience as management development expert, developed their Learning Styles Questionnaire as an attempt to apply learning style theory to the context of management. Moreover, although their theoretical precepts follow closely Kolb’s 4-stage Cycle of Learning, and their instrument was developed following original experiences with David Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory, Honey and Mumford argued that “the crucial point was to focus the questionnaire on real work activities, rather than the abstract words which were the basis of Kolb’s first LSI” (Mumford & Honey, 1992).
In fact, the first version of the LSI, created in 1969, asked respondents to rate words in 4-words sets, totalling 9 sets (items) in the original version (Kolb & Kolb, 2005).
Here are two examples:
|_____ receptive||_____ impartial||_____ analytical||_____ relevant|
|_____ intuitive||_____ questioning||_____ logical||_____ productive|
The Kolb Learning Styles inventory would be revised several times (it is now in its version 4), incorporating sentence stems, but maintaining the system of asking respondents to rank order their preferences.
To get back to Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles Questionnaire, then. Let it be noted that it, too, underwent several revisions to make it more reliable, both internally and externally. In its latest version, it consists of a list of 40 or 80 statements on personal preferences to which you answer ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’, what scholars call the “bi-polar” nature of the questionnaire. These statements cover behaviours, preferences and beliefs which underlie different learning styles preferences, either 10 or 20 to each learning style.
Other than the focus on the business context, there is a second difference between the LSQ and the KLSI: it not only enables respondents to identify their favoured learning style, but it also leads directly to the identification of those kinds of behaviour which reduce an individual’s capacity as a learner (Mumford & Honey, 1992).
So, as stated by the authors themselves, the purpose of the LSQ model is to stimulate individuals to think about the way they learn from their experiences. In practical terms, it measures the strength of an individual’s preference for each style to give an indication of the degree to which any learning style is preferred compared to the others (Swailes & Senior, 1999). It should, however, not be used to categorize individuals into a learning style profile or make inferences about performance. Remember, ultimately, all learning styles add to a full learning experience, and that’s why trainers should provide learners with a diversity of tasks and activities.
So, what use are Learning Style Inventories or Questionnaires for trainers? Well, the first purpose is to stimulate discussion among learners about learning approaches and strategies, both those preferred by learners and those they shun. All researchers concur that making learners aware of how they learn, how and why they react to a learning situation or task, will help them make the most of learning, by exploring their favoured style and developing the other styles as well. For trainers, these Inventories and Questionnaires can provide insights into how to present the different tasks and activities, with a view to exploring them more fully, engaging all learners and leading them through the learning cycle to become more autonomous and efficient learners. Moreover, knowing learners’ styles will advance class dynamics and make teams more effective: we divide a collective of learners into pairs or groups, it is useful to know what contribution each individual will bring to the task and how different learning styles work best together.
Kolb, D.A. & Kolb, A.Y. (2005). The Kolb Learning Style Inventory. Version 3.1 2005 Technical Specifications. n.p.: Experience Based Learning Systems. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241157771_The_Kolb_Learning_Style_Inventory-Version_31_2005_Technical_Specifi_cations. Accessed January 2020.
Mumford, A. & Honey, P. (1992). Questions and Answers on Learning Styles Questionnaire. Industrial and Commercial Training, 24(7), pp. 10-13.
Reid, J. (1984). Perceptual Learning Styles Preference Questionnaire. Laramie: University of Wyoming, Department of English.
Swailes, S. & Senior, B. (1999). The Dimensionality of Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles Questionnaire. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 7(1), pp. 1-11.
Wintergerst, A.C., DeCapua, A. & Verna, M.A. (2002). An Analysis of One Learning Styles Instrument for Language Students. TESL Canada Journal/Revue TESL du Canada, 20(1), pp. 16-37.