In this presentation we will address the following questions. (Read this slide out loud.)
Kolb’s theory has four stages identified. A learner can begin at any stage but has to go through the others in sequence. They can be summed up as Do, Observe, Think and Plan.
Learning is seen by Kolb as a process that continues which leads to life-long learning. His theory does not view learning as an outcome but as an ongoing process.
Kolb aligned his theory with Dewey’s philosophical pragmatism, Lewin’s social psychology and Piaget’s cognitive developmental genetic epistemology from a very unique perspective on learning and development (Kolb, 1984).
Provide a brief overview of this slide (Read from the slide and provide time for questions.)
Read the quote above. Learning has to be more than just lecturing. Learners need to have an opportunity to share their experiences that relate to the material being covered. Educators can guide the students to seeing how this experience relates to the new information they are learning and help them process it.
Summarize the bullet points above after reading the introduction on the slide.
Summarize the above bullet points.
In summary, we should be mindful of the six general propositions of Kolb’s experiential learning theory. (Read the bullets above). Take a moment and reflect on your teaching/learning style. Can anyone see traces of experiential learning in your processes? Thank you!
Kolb’s Theory of
Richard W. Riley School of Education and Leadership
Questions to be addressed
• What is Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning?
• What role does experience play in learning?
• How does experiential learning align with how adults develop?
• How is experiential learning applicable to teaching and learning?
Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning Defined
Educational Theorist David A. Kolb believes “learning is
the process whereby knowledge is created through the
transformation of experience” (1984, p.38).
It’s a holistic perspective that combines
experience, perception, cognition, and behavior.
Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning
Kolb (1984), theorized that learning from experience requires four
different kinds of abilities:
1. An openness and willingness to involve oneself in new experiences
2. Observational and reflective skills so these new experiences can
be viewed from a variety of persectives (reflective observation)
3. Analytical abilities so integrative ideas and concepts can be
created from their observations (abstract conceptualization)
4. Concepts can be used in actual practice (active experimentation)
Model of Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning
The Role of Experience in Learning
Learning is seen as the process by which knowledge is created
through the transformation of experience. There are several
critical aspects of the learning process viewed from the experiential
perspective. The first one is the process of adaption and learning.
Second is that knowledge is continuously created and recreated, it
is a transformation process. Third, experience is transformed in
both objective and subjective forms in the learning process.
Lastly, in order to understand learning, we must first understand
the nature of knowledge.
Aligning Experiential Learning with Adult
Experience aligns with adult development as it is the source for
both learning and development. Kolb’s theory was developed from
the experiential works of Dewey, Lewin, and Piaget’s learning
This is seen in the Learning Style Inventory (LSI) that was developed
by Kolb in 1971. Four prevalent learning styles were identified –
Diverging, Assimilating, Converging, and Accommodating.
Summary of the four basic learning styles
• Divergers - view situations from many perspectives and
rely heavily upon brainstorming and generation of ideas
• Assimilators - use inductive reasoning and have the ability
to create theoretical models
• Convergers - rely heavily on hypothetical-deductive
• Accommodators - carry out plans and experiments and
adapt to immediate circumstances
Applying Experiential Learning to
Teaching & Learning
“It’s not enough just to do, and
neither is it enough just to think. Nor
is it enough simply to do and think.
Learning from experience must
involve the doing and the thinking.”
Gibbs (1988, 9)
Essential Components of
The following list of criteria for experience based learning was
provided by Andresen, Boud, and Choen (2000).
• The goals of experience-based learning involves something
personally significant or meaningful to the students.
• Students should be personally engaged.
• Reflective thought and opportunities for students to discuss their
experiences should be ongoing throughout the process.
Essential Components of
• The whole person is involved. This includes their senses, feelings
• Students should be recognized for prior learning they bring into
• Teachers need to establish a sense of
trust, respect, openness, and concern for the well-being of the
Kolb & Kolb (2005) compiled six general propositions of experiential
1. Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes.
2. Learning is relearning.
3. Learners must move between “opposing modes of reflection and
action and feeling and thinking.
4. Learning is holistic.
5. Learning involves interactions between the learner and the
6. Learning is constructivist in nature.