Vermunt's learning styles: which learning style do you have?

Everyone learns differently: where some devour a textbook out of personal interest, others do it purely for the sake of getting their degree. Jan Vermunt, a professor at the University of Utrecht, uses his theory to distinguish various learning styles. But what exactly are Vermunt's four learning styles? Stuvia helps you get started with an explanation of the theory and learning motives.

Vermunt's four learning styles

A study conducted by Jan Vermunt showed that students’ motivation and learning styles are linked. Based on this research, Vermunt's four learning styles emerged:

  • Meaning-directed learning style
  • Reproduction-directed learning style
  • Application-directed learning style
  • Undirected learning style

The learning styles by Vermunt are explained in detail below. Vermunt's learning styles mainly focus on a person's motivation to learn and the associated learning behavior. Curious about learning styles that focus more on the thinking steps someone displays when learning? Then take a look at Kolb's learning styles.

Meaning-directed learning style

In a meaning-directed learning style, you are motivated and have a personal interest in the subject. Your goal is therefore very simple: you want to understand the theory, recognize connections and keep identifying new ones. You apply this learning style if you are proactive, ask a lot of questions, and enjoy learning.

Reproduction-directed learning style

In a reproduction-directed learning style, you learn about a subject to obtain your degree. In this learning style, the subject itself does not motivate you. You focus on increasing your knowledge and being able to apply it to exam questions. With this learning style, the subject matter is not always understood and, above all, quickly forgotten.

Application-directed learning style

In an application-directed learning style, you learn information about a subject to apply it later in practice, for example during an internship or to prepare for your profession. Being able to translate into practice yourself keeps you motivated when applying this learning style.

Undirected learning style

In an undirected learning style, you learn without purpose. The person applying this learning style often learns for others rather than for themselves. With this learning style, you run around like a headless chicken and have no clear system. What you learn is, therefore, also not processed. People often apply this learning style when they don't know exactly what their learning style is. Fortunately, various learning strategies can help you on your way.

Always keep in mind that the learning styles by Vermunt are about how you learn at that specific moment. Therefore, everyone can apply several styles during their studies or work. Just think about it. You probably raced through the study material for an interesting subject with a meaning-based learning style. However, for a boring subject, you probably applied a reproduction-directed learning style, just to get a good grade. And where in one subject you were motivated to learn for an internship and used the application-directed learning style, another time you had no motivation at all, resulting in an undirected learning style.

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