Quick Thinker / Deep Thinker #3

Comparing Learning Styles

The Quick Thinker/Deep Thinker model I am developing explores how we process information.  Learning style research deals with processing styles.  The idea that some people prefer working in a group and brainstorming ideas (Quick thinkers), and that some prefer to observe, research and submit a proposal for review (Deep thinkers) is embedded in all the learning theory models.

Berings, Poell and Simons (2008) compared Kolb’s (1984), Honey and Mumford’s (1992), and Jackson’s (2002) learning styles models.

KolbHoney & MumfordJackson
Concrete experienceActivistInitiator
Reflective observationReflectorReasoner
Abstract conceptualizationTheoristAnalyst
Active experimentationPragmatistImplementor

Description of rows (comparisons)

  1. Doing and experiencing things and learning by trial and error.
  2. Observing experiences from many different angles and trying to understand the logic underlying problems before making a move.
  3. Reviewing information, analyzing, and forming abstract concepts and generalizations before acting.
  4. Trying out ideas, theories, and techniques to see if these work in practice.

Descriptors #1 and #4 would fall on the Quick Thinker side of the continuum and descriptors #2 and #3 describe Deep thinkers.  The descriptors in these models could find their way on a Quick/Deep thinker continuum, but they do bring up ways of processing that do not easily fit on a linear framework.

Gregorc’s model (as cited in Tobias, 1994), is a useful structure to find personality/behavior styles within a learning style category.

Concrete SequentialAbstract Sequential
hardworking conventional accurate stable dependable consistent factual organizedanalytic objective knowledgeable thorough structured logical deliberate systematic
Abstract RandomConcrete Random
sensitive compassionate perceptive imaginative idealistic sentimental spontaneous flexiblequick intuitive curious realistic creative innovative instinctive adventurous

The emotional component of how we process information is very significant, but it doesn’t cleanly fall into a Quick/Deep thinker, linear continuum.  At first glance the Concrete and Abstract Sequentials would lean toward the Deep thinker end of the continuum and the Abstract Random and Concrete Random would tend to be on the Quick thinker side.

Robbins & Judge (2009) discuss the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality-assessment instrument that has some classifications that could be separated into a Quick/Deep thinker continuum.  On the quick thinker side, extraverted and intuitive may fit easily.  Introverted and sensing tend toward a deep thinking mode.  Thinking vs. feeling and judging vs. perceiving don’t separate out so easily.  Logic and emotions can fit either processing style, so it would be difficult to fit the MBTI styles into a linear model.

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence model (as cited in Armstrong, 2009) relates to how we process information and learn. In order to apply the Quick/Deep thinker concept to Gardner’s model, a separate continuum would have to be placed within each MI.  That is to say there are Quick and Deep thinkers in each of the MI categories.  Gardner’s theory does not easily lend itself to the linear model I am proposing.

The brain research (Caine, Caine, McClintic & Klimek, 2009, Herrmann, 1989) shows that an important component of learning is a safe environment; one in which the student feels confident and does not feel threatened.  If there is excessive stress in a learning or work environment, the brain moves to fight/flight/freeze and the protection instinct limits the ability to learn.  That research speaks to the need to give Deep thinkers time to process without feeling “on the spot” or threatened.  The Quick thinker environment is honored in businesses, and Deep thinkers may not be able to do their best work in a Quick thinking environment unless there is a structure in place to allow for processing time before decisions are made.


Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. ASCD.

Berings, M.,  Poell, R., & Simons, P. R. (2008). Dimensions of on the job:Learning styles. Applied Psychology: An International Review.

Caine, R., Cain, G., McClintic, C., Klimek, K. (2009). Twelve brain/mind learning principles in action: Developing executive functions of the human brain. Corwin Press, SAGE Publications Ltd. (Aug 2005). 

Educational Psychology, 25(4), p395-407.

Felder, R.M., & Silverman, L.K. (1988). Learning and teaching styles in engineering education. Engineering Education78, 674-681.

Graf, S., Viola, S. R. (2007). In-depth analysis of the Felder-Silverman learning style dimensions. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(1), p79-93.

Gregoric, A. R. (1982). Style delineator.  Maynard, MA: Gabriel Systems.

Herrmann, N. (1989). The creative brain.  North Carolina, NC: Brain Books, The Ned Herrmann Group.

Hoult, Elizabeth. (2006).  Learning support: a guide for mature students. Sage Publications.

Kolb. D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Ramsden, P. (1992). Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge.

Robbins, S. P. & Judge, T. A. (2009)  Organizational behavior.  Prentice Hall.

Tobias, C. U. (1994). The way they learn: How to discover and teach to your child’s strengths. Focus on the Family.

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