Are you a concrete or an abstract learner?
Did you know that there are 4 different learning styles? And that your style greatly impacts your life? So, are you an abstract learner, concrete learner, random or sequential?
You may have noticed that working with some people is easier than with others.
This not only depends on who you like better but also on their learning style. We all use different types of thinking.
It’s possible that your style and theirs are not that compatible.
Some of us are abstract thinkers and like abstract concepts. Others prefer concrete examples and practical applications.
That’s why it’s helpful to know your own learning style and identify how your team members are wired.
Abstract Learner vs Concrete Learner
Anthony Gregorc’s Mind Styles Model from 1984 is based on the idea that our way of thinking, learning, and processing information can be divided into 4 distinct learning styles.
Abstract learner, concrete learner, random or sequential.
We all have our preferred style, which influences how we do things and how well we get along with each other.
We’re not talking about VARK which also has 4 categories (distinguishing Visual learners, Aural, Read/write, and Kinesthetic sensory learners), in case you’re wondering.
So what is this about?
In Gregorc’s learning styles, you’ll find words like
If you had to guess, what learning style do you think you are?
You’re probably not thinking much about these categories.
But luckily, we got some help to make this easier to digest.
Sonia Simone from copyblogger revisited the “4 Mind Styles Model” and attributed each category to an animal rather than their scientific but somewhat abstract terms.
Are you ready to be introduced to cats, dogs, rats, and monkeys?
Let’s meet the learning styles zoo
Now that Sonia Simone put some fun animal faces on the different types of thinkers, they get more relatable and memorable.
I’m sure you can list our furry friends by the end of this post. The scientific names, maybe not so much.
Concrete Learner, Abstract Learner, Sequential, and Random in different combinations, anyone?
So let’s get to our first category of learning styles.
Cats (scientific term: Concrete-Random-Learner)
Cats like to experiment, are hands-on risk-takers, and learn from the process. They can be highly competitive and prefer to work through problems on their own. Routine and repetition bore them to death.
So when cats read something, they need to know that this is worth their time.
If they don’t see any value for themselves, you won’t see them again any time soon.
Dogs (scientific term: Concrete-Sequential-Learner)
In contrast to cats, dogs don’t mind repetitive work. But they are the type of thinkers who growl at open-ended questions, a lack of structure, and disorganized people. Dogs can be exceptional task masters if they know exactly what is expected.
Real-life stories and tangible examples are the best way to charm dog readers.
Dogs don’t care about abstract ideas, so practical step-by-step illustrations and exercises are good value to them.
Rats (scientific term: Abstract-Sequential-Learner)
Rats, like cats, don’t care for tedious or repetitive work. Logic, fact, and expediency are crucial to them.
They thrive in stimulating environments and value expert opinions. When it comes to communicating with others, they may not always be tactful.
Rats are analytical and structured thinkers, so the material they read needs to be logical and contain verifiable facts.
They have no interest whatsoever in superficial content. The higher the renowned expert-level of the author, the better.
Monkeys (scientific term: Abstract-Random-Learner)
Monkeys really are the most social animals in our groups. They truly enjoy teamwork and shy away from competition.
Dictatorial leaders and unfriendly people won’t get any bananas, either. Focusing on one thing at a time can be complicated for the playful monkey, and even constructive criticism can hurt their feelings.
Monkey readers are the most likely to interact with content just for fun.
Imaginative, communicating, and spontaneous, they particularly enjoy the social part of social media.
Free abstract vs concrete thinking test
Your answers will probably be a mixture of all 4 categories, but their distribution will differ.
Maybe you understand abstract ideas, but you still prefer concrete ideas.
So, you’ll likely have 1 or 2 “winners” at the end of this fun quiz.
This little exercise is even more fun when you guess the outcome first (according to the descriptions you read above).
When I researched this article, I immediately thought “Yep, I’m pretty sure I’m a rat”.
Can you guess your learning style?
As it turns out, I really am a slightly doggy rat – which means I’m definitely not random 🙂 (remember, concrete – abstract – sequential – random).
I chose words from all 4 categories, which is normal. No one will pick exclusively 2 categories, we’re not that black and white.
Abstract learners, concrete learners: How does this help you in real life?
If you are aware of the different thinking and learning styles of your coworkers, clients or employees, it is much easier to find the right way of communicating with them.
Identifying people as an abstract learner, concrete learner, random or sequential can help you.
When you know someone is a dog, for example, you know that giving them clear instructions and step-by-step guides helps them do their best job.
However, if you were talking to a cat, that would be the wrong thing. You see, identifying peoples’ thinking styles is helpful.
Knowing your animals can improve relationships and lead to better results thanks to more effective communication.
This model also plays a role in marketing.
You can try to touch as many different groups as possible in one piece of communication or tailor it to the 1 or 2 types of thinkers you want to address in particular.
So this little exercise is not only fun but can also improve communication, teamwork, employee satisfaction, and results.
Understanding everyone’s learning process and types of thinking makes your life easier.
Now, I’m curious. What kind of animal(s) do you think you are?
Abstract learner, concrete learner, random or sequential?
What kind of thinker are you? Did you guess correctly? Comment your thoughts below.
Take this FREE thinking styles test
Let’s see how many animals we get – the more, the merrier!
Have a great week!
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