Personal and Professional Development


Discuss how you have identified your learning and development method. Recommend how people could learn to identify suitable methods for development and suggest how you could encourage lifelong learning in personal and professional context. Evaluate the benefits of self- managed learning to the individual and to the organisation.


There are various ways to instigate and establish a personal learning and development method. This essay will identify how self-managed learning and a personal learning and development method can be achieved. The essay will also identify and discuss different ways to encourage lifelong learning in a personal and professional context. Within this forum, this essay will evaluate the benefits of self-managed learning to an individual and an organisation.

Instigating and establishing a personal learning and development method is a practical way of improving skills and knowledge. This can be difficult without first establishing main features of your learning personality and how that influences the way you learn. One of the main contributors to learning style theory is Kolb’s experiential learning theory. Kolb provides a means to understand a person’s learning style. He suggests that learning maintains four different stages of learning, whereby concrete experiences (feelings) lead to observations and reflections, which transpire into an abstract concept, which them initiates action through experimentation (Kolb, D. A. 1984). Research by theorists such as Kolb have led to the development of various learning style tests, such asHoney and Mumford’s learning style questionnaire, which identifies the personality traits that influence our learning (Honey, P. and Mumford, A. 2006). Using Kolb’s learning style model, Honey and Mumford’s questionnaire is able to inform a learner whether they display the personality traits of an activist, reflector theorist or pragmatist (Honey, P. and Mumford, A. 2006; Kolb, D. A. 1984). However, the traits of an activist, reflector, theorist and pragmatist are terms that were devised solely by Honey and Mumford and separated their theory from that of Kolb. Nonetheless, Honey and Mumford does seem to follow the cycle objectives of Kolb.

Another learning style test is the Visual-Auditory-Kinaesthetic (VAK) and helps the learner’s identify whether their preferred learning method is visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. In contrast to Honey and Mumford’s test, the VAK learning styles test does not substantiate Kolb’s theory, but rather provides a view of a personal learning method from another angle. The results of both the Honey and Mumford and VAK learning style tests are not an exact science, but they do provide the learner with an otherwise unexplored insight into the method they can use to facilitate their personal learning development.

In order to establish my personal learning and development method, I participated in the Honey and Mumford learning style questionnaire (See Appendix 2 ) to establish my personal learning method. I discovered that I display even personality traits as an activist (6), reflector(7), theorist (7) and pragmatist (8). As the results of the questionnaire reveal, as an activist I am open-minded and seek new challenges. As a reflector, I like to listen and analyse information before taking action. As a theorist, I think things through in stages and as a pragmatist, I am eager to find practical solutions to problems.

I also took the VAK and Honey and Mumford learning style tests. Further to completing the VAK learning style test (See Appendix 1), I discovered that I was predominantly a visual (score=13) and kinaesthetic (score=12) learner. Although I possessed preference for auditory learning, I only scored a mark of 5. In relation to my visual and kinaesthetic learning styles, auditory learning is less preferred. As a visual learner, I prefer to learn through observation by way of pictures, diagrams and demonstration. As a kinaesthetic learner, I require a physical or practical means to learn. The little traits of auditory learning preference I have, means that I absorb information through sound such as listening to somebody speaking.

The CIPD defines learning methods as ‘any intervention that are deliberately undertaken to assist the process of learning at individual, team or organisational level’ (CIPD). Personal and professional lifelong learning is a means to meet the demands of a fast moving, skills demanding, world (CIPD).

Lifelong learning in a professional context can be instigated by the organisation or the individual. The organisation usually initiates learning for its employees by way of training. This can be traditional learning, focused on the employee’s needs or conventional training, which is focused on skills directly associated with an employee’s job. However, the intention of an organisation is usually to initiate training that meets the task demands of the employee’s job. It tends not to stretch or facilitate the development of skills outside the remit of the employee’s post. Nonetheless, some company’s design or facilitate the payment of learning opportunities through self-study online courses.This type of personal and professional learning development is favoured by organisations, as it relies on the employee to instigate or progress their own development.

Before designing or facilitating traditional or conventional training for employees, an employer or Human Resources department should investigate the employee motivational theories of Maslow, Herzberg and McGregor (Maslow, 1947; Herzberg, 1959; McGregor, 1987). Knowing what motivates an employee will make the training more effective. A motivated employee is a more productive employee and a more productive employee will drive an organisation’s performance and profits. Sometimes, the way in which an employee works is also important for an organisation to establish how an employee will be matched to their tasks and how to encourage their personal and professional development. This can be achieved through the Honey and Mumford learning styles questionnaire, which was first to determine the learning needs of employees from the Chloride organisation (Honey, P. and Mumford, A. 2006).

When initiating professional learning development to its employees, an organisation should encourage their employees to make an informed choice for their learning.However, this should be considerate to the work-related issues of the organisation. Organisations should also help their employees manage their development and ensure that an employee is able to accommodate the time it will take to acquire new skills and knowledge. Similarly, successful personal lifelong development can only be achieved when it is linked to long-term personal or career goals.

Lifelong learning can also be developed through the use of reflective journals, online subject blogs. These forums provide the learner with support, a means of informal assessment and motivation towards their learning goals.

Self-managed learning is a directive for people to channel their natural mental ability towards achieving an academic or practical goal (Zimmerman, 2008). It is also gives the learner autonomy in their learning development. Self-managed learning can also provide an individual or an organisation wide access and flexibility to materials that are best suited to either work-related or personal learning development. Self-managed learning is successful when participants are able to discuss their skills and development in groups albeit by way of a blog or tutor group. It can also provide an opportunity to practice and develop a wider understanding of skills. In addition, self-managed learning can help a learner develop a personal learning strategy and become a driver of motivation in a personal or professional context.
Appendix 1 : VAK Learning Style Questionnaire
Accessed from: Businessballs
VAK Learning Styles Self-Assessment Questionnaire
Circle or tick the answer that most represents how you generally behave.
(It’s best to complete the questionnaire before reading the accompanying explanation.)
1. When I operate new equipment I generally:
a) read the instructions first
b) listen to an explanation from someone who has used it before
c) go ahead and have a go, I can figure it out as I use it

2. When I need directions for travelling I usually:
a) look at a map
b) ask for spoken directions
c) follow my nose and maybe use a compass

3. When I cook a new dish, I like to:
a) follow a written recipe
b) call a friend for an explanation
c) follow my instincts, testing as I cook

4. If I am teaching someone something new, I tend to:
a) write instructions down for them
b) give them a verbal explanation
c) demonstrate first and then let them have a go

5. I tend to say:
a) watch how I do it
b) listen to me explain
c) you have a go

6. During my free time I most enjoy:
a) going to museums and galleries
b) listening to music and talking to my friends
c) playing sport or doing DIY

7. When I go shopping for clothes, I tend to:
a) imagine what they would look like on
b) discuss them with the shop staff
c) try them on and test them out

8. When I am choosing a holiday I usually:
a) read lots of brochures
b) listen to recommendations from friends
c) imagine what it would be like to be there

9. If I was buying a new car, I would:
a) read reviews in newspapers and magazines
b) discuss what I need with my friends
c) test-drive lots of different types

10. When I am learning a new skill, I am most comfortable:
a) watching what the teacher is doing
b) talking through with the teacher exactly what I’m supposed to do
c) giving it a try myself and work it out as I go

11. If I am choosing food off a menu, I tend to:
a) imagine what the food will look like
b) talk through the options in my head or with my partner
c) imagine what the food will taste like

12. When I listen to a band, I can’t help:
a) watching the band members and other people in the audience
b) listening to the lyrics and the beats
c) moving in time with the music

13. When I concentrate, I most often:
a) focus on the words or the pictures in front of me
b) discuss the problem and the possible solutions in my head
c) move around a lot, fiddle with pens and pencils and touch things

14. I choose household furnishings because I like:
a) their colours and how they look
b) the descriptions the sales-people give me
c) their textures and what it feels like to touch them

15. My first memory is of:
a) looking at something
b) being spoken to
c) doing something

16. When I am anxious, I:
a) visualise the worst-case scenarios
b) talk over in my head what worries me most
c) can’t sit still, fiddle and move around constantly

17. I feel especially connected to other people because of:
a) how they look
b) what they say to me
c) how they make me feel

18. When I have to revise for an exam, I generally:
a) write lots of revision notes and diagrams
b) talk over my notes, alone or with other people
c) imagine making the movement or creating the formula

19. If I am explaining to someone I tend to:
a) show them what I mean
b) explain to them in different ways until they understand
c) encourage them to try and talk them through my idea as they do it

20. I really love:
a) watching films, photography, looking at art or people watching
b) listening to music, the radio or talking to friends
c) taking part in sporting activities, eating fine foods and wines or dancing

21. Most of my free time is spent:
a) watching television
b) talking to friends
c) doing physical activity or making things

22. When I first contact a new person, I usually:
a) arrange a face to face meeting
b) talk to them on the telephone
c) try to get together whilst doing something else, such as an activity or a meal
23. I first notice how people:
a) look and dress
b) sound and speak
c) stand and move

24. If I am angry, I tend to:
a) keep replaying in my mind what it is that has upset me
b) raise my voice and tell people how I feel
c) stamp about, slam doors and physically demonstrate my anger

25. I find it easiest to remember:
a) faces
b) names
c) things I have done

26. I think that you can tell if someone is lying if:
a) they avoid looking at you
b) their voices changes
c) they give me funny vibes

27. When I meet an old friend:
a) I say “it’s great to see you!”
b) I say “it’s great to hear from you!”
c) I give them a hug or a handshake

28. I remember things best by:
a) writing notes or keeping printed details
b) saying them aloud or repeating words and key points in my head
c) doing and practising the activity or imagining it being done

29. If I have to complain about faulty goods, I am most comfortable:
a) writing a letter
b) complaining over the phone
c) taking the item back to the store or posting it to head office

30. I tend to say:
a) I see what you mean
b) I hear what you are saying
c) I know how you feel


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