Success Techniques for The Life-Long Learner

Successful study techniques can propel an individual forward in business, in school and in life. In Conrad Lashley and Warwick Best's book , the authors assert that study techniques which are rarely taught in school could improve learning styles in both work-place and home environments. Their book emphasizes the importance of understanding our individual learning styles as a means to creating success in each area of life. Included in the text is a reference to earlier work on the subject.

A four category system, first revealed in Honey and Mumford's , is described in detail to help readers begin the self-identification process. According to each set of authors, using the categories below to identify your style can lead to learning improvement.


The activist learns through direct experience. This individual is not a fan of rules. Caution is an afterthought for this person and taking tasks into their own hands is an exciting idea. Because this person learns by doing, they appreciate opportunities to approach every angle of a task and investigate every option.

Activists learn well in group settings. Discussing topics with others helps them retain information. They become excited when given the chance to volunteer. It is very likely that they will skim through books rather than peruse them leisurely. Their level of engagement while reading is likely to be lower than their engagement during a class discussion. The activist can capitalize on their strong abilities to motivate others and learn from them by joining study groups. Since the activist loves to write freely and explore a topic extensively, independent study can also work to their benefit when these traits are emphasized in their time alone.


The reflector learns through observation. This person sees long-term implications by identifying patterns. The reflector is likely overflowing with ideas. This individual is a big picture thinker. Because the reflector's attention is captured by context, approaching learning from a "big picture" mindset can be helpful. When they can assign contextual relevance to the small details, they stand a better chance of retaining information.

The reflector has talents for pointing out new important questions, offering creative solutions and seeing new ways to approach issues. Pursuing further education and income opportunities where these strengths are valued can help the reflector put his or her natural skills to their best use.


The theorist is stimulated by organization. Concrete ideas and concepts are their favorite types.  Ambiguous and subjective concepts are their least favorite types. The theorist has a gift for seeing the links between ideas.  This helps them group them together in a logical format. The theorist is a fan of analysis.

Theorists aim to understand the causes of events from an analytical perspective. Methodical approaches are enjoyable for them. They are the most likely of any category to approach life by the rule book. Because of their appreciation for details, theorists are great at implementing current guidelines. When they have the right set of rules, they are good critics.


The pragmatist learns best when there is a clear link between the subject and a practical problem.  Pragmatists benefit from seeing real world applications. They remember interactions with mentors who can give them direct feedback. When the pragmatist can connect the information they are learning to its' practical use, they can remember it easily.

The pragmatist has great strengths of organization, will likely create quality research papers in school and is good at completing work in an efficient manner so that there is time for activities outside of work. This individual is great at setting and achieving their goals.

Although these categories might not address all of our needs as learners, they have proven to be successful for some people. Choosing the title which resonates with you and taking the relevant steps to improve may be useful in your life as well.





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