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Kolb’s Learning Styles And Experiential Learning Cycle

Kolb's Learning Styles
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This report has intentionally developed with the purpose of identifying the needs of learning style. It is a common fact that people tend to learn different things and knowledge but is important to understand that every individual has a different level of understanding and a preferable way to learn. Therefore, this report aims to understand one of the most important learning styles- Kolb’s learning styles. It will discuss Kolb’s learning style and experiential learning cycle along with its advantages and disadvantages. 

Why Do We Need Different Learning Styles? 

Learning is an inevitable part of our lives. Humans are the only being on the earth that has the rational capacity to think, analyze, interpret, and evaluate the results. Every kind of learning, whether it is conventional or non-conventional, has a certain process or procedure. We grow by learning different knowledge, skills, and experience. However, it is a true fact that every single individual has their own preferred or comfortable way of learning or grabbing knowledge. Individuals have different learning styles because they differ in their natural, habitat, and preferred ways of observing, absorbing, interpreting, evaluating, and retaining any new information or experience (Hatami, 2013). Learning style is not an ability rather it is the way or method that an individual prefers. By the preferred way of learning style, an individual is sought to learn more effectively as compared to any other non-preferable learning style. In addition to this, the research study of Moussa (2014) postulates that learning styles play an important role in the learning process of the individual. In the education field, learning styles are providing immense advantages to educators and learners. There are several dimensions of learning styles that are utilized by the educators to aware of the unique characteristics of different learners. Educators use their awareness to give enormous support through plagiarism free essay help to the learners by developing different teaching methods by incorporating various learning styles.

About Kolb’s And His Theory 

The evidence of the effectiveness of learning style can be seen in one of the most popular and widely used learning styles- Kolb’s Learning Style. There are multiple learning styles developed by several psychologists and philosophers but Kolb’s learning style is ahead of all of them. Many works of different writers lack the theoretical base, however, with the publication of Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (1984), Kolb was successful to carve the niche. This publication has helped him to develop a special position for himself in the field of learning styles and theories. His learning styles and learning cycle is still valid in the current scenario without any doubt. According to the valuable opinion of Kolb, learning is the process in which knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. His theory delivers a structured and sequential format about how a learning session can be taught to enhance the learning power of the learners. The publication of the book has provided new knowledge that learning is a cyclic process. It is cyclical that involves four stages. Another important factor associated with Kolb’s theory is that every stage of learning involves different learning styles. In this regard, it also helps the educators or teachers to recognize their own learning style that further helps them to develop effective teaching and strategies to communicate their knowledge with the learners or students (Healey and Jenkins, 2000). 

There are multiple learning methods defined by dissertation assignment help experts such as independent learning, learning by doing, work-based learning, problem-based learning, etc. all these learning methods have adopted Kolb’s learning styles and experiential learning cycle effectively. 

Kolb’s Learning Styles 

Kolb’s in his publication of Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development has formulated four learning styles that people naturally prefer. Among these four learning styles, people at least prefer one learning style. However, there are multiple factors that influence the preferred style of the individuals. These factors may be classified as a social factor, environment factor, cultural factor, educational experiences, or cognitive structure of the learner. The research of Loh and Teo (2017) provides a strong justification of the stated fact. According to the authors, culture plays an important role in shaping the learning capability, thinking capability, and behavior of the learner or student. A culture consists of social rules, beliefs, attitudes, and values. All these elements of the culture govern the actions of the individual. Nevertheless, whatever influences the preference of learning style, Kolb underpinned two pairs of variables. These variables are the separate choices that we make. The four learning stages involve four different learning stages that lie on the two primary axes. These two axes determine the two dimensions of the cycle (see Figure 1). The first dimension or axis is between abstract conceptualization and concrete experience, and the second dimension or axis is between active experimentation and reflective observation. These will be explained clearly in the further section of this report. However, the first dimension vividly explains how we perceive or retain new information or knowledge. On the other hand, the second dimension is about how we transform the perceived information or knowledge. In the same figure, the right angles of the two axes provide four different combinations of learning styles. Thus, by the use of matrix, Kolb determines four learning styles. Each learning style is associated with a different way of solving the problems. 

These four learning styles postulated by Kolb are Diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating. These are explained below:

  1. Divergent learning style: According to the statement of Kolb, divergent learning style is preferred by those learners who are best at tasks that require “imaginative ability and awareness of meaning and values. These kinds of learners are those learners who learn by imagining and understanding. They learn best by concrete examples of the concept of knowledge. Moreover, divergent learners reflect numerous perspectives of the given concept by expressing their several points of view (Richmond and Cummings, 2005). In short, it can be said that these kinds of learners prefer to observe rather than react. They are emotionally-aligned learners and mostly reflect their side of creativity and curiosity. In the dimensions or axes, they prefer the modes of concrete experience and reflective observation. Some of the greatest advantages of these kinds of learners are that they are good at extracting the meaningful meanings of the concepts and to imagine and observe the surroundings. This learning style is called divergent because it is suited well in situations that require alternative ideas and their applications. An example of this situation is a brainstorming session. Divergers enjoy to evaluate current information and to create examples. 
  1. Convergent learning style: This learning style is the opposite of the divergent learning style. Kolb opines that the learners who prefer convergent learning style to learn are good at solving problems, making decisions, and applying or experimenting with practical ideas and knowledge into a fruitful process of solving the problem. In addition to this, these learners are good at controlling their emotional aspects and prefer to do technical works. They tend to solve technical problems. However, they lack the quality of solving the issues related to interpersonal and social issues. Online assignment writer said , Divergent learners emphasize the learning modes of active experimentation and active experimentation. Furthermore, these learners are largely dependent on hypothetical-deductive reasoning. Therefore, convergent learners prefer to mold the ideas into real shape and size. In short, it can be said that divergent learners are more aligned towards engineering works. As per the study of Dewi and Tandyonomanu (2018), this learning style prefers to apply a critical thinking approach in order to solve the problems. Moreover, these learners lend to develop their knowledge independently by applying critical thinking power. Convergers enjoy setting the aim and making the decision. 
  1. Assimilative learning style: In this learning style, the dominant modes of learning abilities are abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. The greatest strength of this kind of learner lies in their inductive reasoning skill. The learners who prefer this style of learning have great power of observation. They tend to organize and accumulate different observations into an integrated concept, knowledge, or explanation. This kind of learner focuses more on ideas and concepts rather than people and social connections. In addition to this, they are also concerned with abstract ideas with logical explanations (Richmond and Cummings, 2005). They do not prefer practical aspects of theories and knowledge. Therefore, it can be said that assimilators, in general, are not action-oriented and artistic. This type of learner is good in the situation that includes organized information, conceptual model, and analysis of data and information. 
  1. Accommodative learning style: This learning style is the opposite of the assimilative learning style. Accommodative learning style is dominant with concrete experience and active experimentation modes of learning. Accommodative learners prefer to learn by doing things, carrying out plans, and to conduct experimental works or tasks. They learn more by practically involving themselves in several activities of learning. This type of learner aims to seek new experiences and knowledge by developing the ability to adapt to a changing circumstance. The basic characteristics of accommodators are that they are opportunistic, action-driven, and risk-takers. They tend to solve the problem by trial and error method. Instead of careful analysis of facts by themselves, accommodators largely dependent on others for information. Hence, they lack confidence in their personal analytical skill or ability. However, accommodators enjoy using concrete examples to explain the information. Thus, in short, it can be said that accommodative learners prefer to learn by having the first-hand experience of the knowledge.  

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

One thing that is very fascinating about Kolb’s learning theory is that in every stage of the learning cycle, different learning style is involved. Kolb has provided this theory that enables the learners to identify their learning approach or style that will further help them to become more flexible in different learning situations.

Figure 1: Kolb’s learning style and experiential learning cycle

(Source: McLeod, 2017)

The above figure represents different learning styles along with different modes of learning. The fundamental approach of Kolb is to describe the learning process by representing a four-stage cycle of learning. In the below figure, Kolb has vividly explained with the help of the cycle model that how the experience of the learner is transformed through various stages of reflective observation and abstract conceptualization into active experimentation. Thus, the figure involves four stages of the cycle, which are concrete experience, reflexive observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.

Figure 2: Four stages of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle.

(Source: Sharlanova, 2004)

Concrete experience: The learner is actively participated

Reflexive observation: The learner is actively engaged to observe the experience.

Abstract conceptualization: The learner tries to conceptualize the concept.

Active experimentation: The learner tries to plan to test the model.

Detailed Analysis Of The Four Stages Of This Cycle:

  1. Concrete Experience: This is the first phase or stage of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle. In this stage, a learner tries to involve doing things or actively participating in the learning activities. The intention of the learner is just to fulfill the task and to gain the experience. The individual or learner is encountered with a new experience or situation. They do not instantly reflect on the experiences that were gained by them during the learning activities. However, they intend to do so. Thus, it can be said that learners only prefer to feel or connect with the experience rather than to think and reflect.
  1. Reflexive Observation: In this second stage of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, individuals or learners aim to think or reflect on the experience gained by them during the learning activities. Therefore, in order to do so, they return back to the starting point for where they begin and start to reflect on every possible aspect of the experience. At this stage, communication is the most vital tool which helps the learners to analyze the discrepancies between their understanding and experience. In addition to this assignment help specialist believed, good vocabulary skill is also important to review, perceive, and comprehend the experience (Sharlanova, 2004). 
  1. Abstract conceptualization: In the third stage of the cycle, individual begins to conceptualize the interpretations and analyses done by them in the previous stage and they start to understand the connection between different interpretations. Different theories and models are applied by them to provide the shape and concrete explanation s of their understanding. In the previous stage of this cycle, a learner tried to formulate different questions and in this stage, the learner tries to find the answers to those questions. On the basis of findings, the learner develops the hypothesis, concepts, and conclusion of the experiences. Thus, in short, it can be said that it is a systematic approach to solving the problems and developing the theories. 
  1. Active Participation: This is the last stage of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle. This can be regarded as the testing stage (Kurt, 2020). In this stage, the learner engages themselves to plan for participating in the experimentations in order to test the hypotheses developed in the previous stage of this cycle. The goal of the learner in this stage is to apply their conclusions to gain new experiences. Thus, in the stage of active participation, learners seek new information and experience, and in this way, the cycle of Kolb’s experiential learning can be continued by going through the next stages of the cycle. 

Kolb’s learning theory is cyclical and an individual can enter into any stage of this cycle, however, it is important to complete the cycle that ensures that effective learning has been taken place.

Relation Between Kolb’s Learning Style And Experiential Learning Cycle

The connection between Kolb’s learning style and experiential learning cycle are explained with the help of matrix.

Kolb’s experiential learning cycle  Active ParticipationReflexive Observation
Concrete experience  Accommodative learning styleDivergent learning style
Abstract conceptualization  Convergent learning styleAssimilative learning style

Advantages Of Kolb’s Learning Theory

Kolb’s learning theory is widely applied in various interdisciplinary subjects. One of the most important and significant features of this theory is that every stage of the cycle is associated with a different learning style. This is one of the most robust and influential learning theories in the current modern era. As it has been discussed in this report that every individual has their preferred learning style and recognizing this is one of the first step of the students to aware them about learning activities. Kolb’s learning theory provides immense opportunity for the students to recognize their preferred style of learning. Moreover, it helps them to become more flexible and to adopt diverse demands of learning situations. In addition to this, Kolb’s learning styles and experiential learning cycle enable the learners to transfer the knowledge into concrete and practical concept or theory. Therefore, this theory has played an important role to apply the learning processes into classroom learning activities. It is applied in multiple interdisciplinary subjects such as business and management, geography, nursing, history, and many more. Furthermore, this learning approach can also be adopted by individuals, groups, or organizations (Sharlanova, 2004). You can also know more about advantages of Kolb’s theory from Coursework help experts of SourceEssay.

Disadvantages Of Kolb’s Learning Theory

Although there a lot of advantages and applications of Kolb’s learning style and experiential learning cycle but there are certain disadvantages of this learning style that needs effective evaluation. One of the first disadvantages of this learning style is to accommodate a range of learning styles within a group of the learner. In other words, a teacher, trainer, or educator may find it difficult to apply all the four learning styles of Kolb in a group of the learner because every learner has his or her own learning style preference. Along with this, the second disadvantage of this learning style is the problem of applying the learning model in a real-world scenario. A teacher needs to establish his or her own learning framework in order to apply this learning model in real-life learning activities.

Criticism Of Kolb’s Learning Theory 

Despite significant achievements, praise, and recognition of Kolb’s learning styles and experiential learning theories, there are few critics who extensively criticize the learning styles and modes of Kolb. According to the reliable statements of Morris (2020), the key issue in interpreting Kolb’s learning model is related to lack of clarity in one of the stages of the experiential learning cycle- concrete experience. With regard to the interpretation of concrete experience, Bergsteiner et al (2010) described it as “highly muddled.” In the analysis of Morris (2020), it has been observed that many teachers or educators do not consider the traditional style of teaching such as reading books, giving lectures, etc as a concrete experience or a part of experiential learning. On the other hand, some teachers or educators consider this as a part of experiential learning. Plagiarism free assignment help expertise said,this analysis creates ample confusion among the critics in order to interpret the validity of concrete experience. 

Other critics viewed that Kolb’s learning model ignores the psychodynamic, social, and organizational aspects of learning. Therefore, it can be formulated that Kolb’s model of learning style and experiential learning cycle is not free from limitations and drawbacks. 

Concluding Statements…

Learning is the process as well as an outcome. It is a highly individualized process and learning styles provide background support to help the students or learners and teacher or coach to identify appropriate learning style preference in order to seek knowledge and to spread knowledge. There is no denial of the fact that Kolb’s model of learning styles has been adopted in various learning activities all around the world. With the help of this model, teachers are getting enormous support to improve their teaching skills and practice. It is a fundamental framework for reflecting on one’s achievement and improvement. In spite of the fact that there are several critics of Kolb’s learning style and experiential learning cycle, there is a vast list of advantages and applications of this model that help to overcome its limitations and drawbacks. Thus, in order to conclude, it can be observed that with the integration of effective teaching methods, Kolb’s learning model can be effectively applied in the learning processes.

References

Dewi, D. K., & Tandyonomanu, D. (2018, December). Convergence vs. Divergence Learning Style Study of Critical Thinking. In 2nd International Conference on Education Innovation (ICEI 2018). Atlantis Press.

Hatami, S. (2013). Learning styles. Elt Journal67(4), 488-490.

Healey, M., & Jenkins, A. (2000). Kolb’s experiential learning theory and its application in geography in higher education. Journal of geography99(5), 185-195.

Kurt, S. (2020). Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory & Learning Styles. Educational Technology. Retrieved from:https://educationaltechnology.net/kolbs-experiential-learning-theory-learning-styles/

Loh, C. Y. R., & Teo, T. C. (2017). Understanding Asian students learning styles, cultural influence and learning strategies. Journal of Education & Social Policy7(1), 194-210.

McLeod, S. (2017). Kolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from: https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html#:~:text=Kolb’s%20experiential%20learning%20theory%20works,the%20learner’s%20internal%20cognitive%20processes.&text=%E2%80%9CLearning%20is%20the%20process%20whereby,(Kolb%2C%201984%2C%20p.

Morris, T. H. (2020). Experiential learning–a systematic review and revision of Kolb’s model. Interactive Learning Environments28(8), 1064-1077.

Moussa, N. (2014). The importance of learning styles in education. Institute for Learning Styles Journal1(2), 19-27.

Richmond, A. S., & Cummings, R. (2005). Implementing Kolb’s learning styles into online distance education. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning1(1), 45-54.

Sharlanova, V. (2004). Experiential learning. Trakia Journal of Sciences2(4), 36-39.

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