Experiential Learning Theory Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) provides a holistic model of the learning process and a multilinear model of adult development, both of which are consistent with what we know about how people learn, grow, and develop. -David A. Kolb(Theory Originator)
David A. Kolb
Richard E. Boyatzis
Concrete Experience “DO”
Reflective Observation “OBSERVE”
Abstract Conceptualization “THINK”
Active Experimentation “PLAN”
Concrete Experience(CE)-Learner actively experiences and activity (lab sessions,field work, etc.)
Reflective Observation(RO)-Learner consciously reflects on that experience.
Abstract Conceptualization(AC)-Learn tries to conceptualize a theory about that experience, and what is observed.
Active Experimentation(AE)-Learner tries to plan to test the theory on what they had observed.
Kolb’s ELT is a cyclical theory where a learner may start at any point in the cycle.
Kolb has identified 4 different learning styles that are heightened under the Experiential Learning Theory, known as the Learning Style Inventory
Learning Style Inventory
Diverging -dominantly use CE and RO. These types of learners view “concrete situations” from many different viewpoints. They learn best when working in groups, listening with open minds, and receiving personalized feedback.
Assimilating -dominantly use AC and RO. These types of learners can take a wide range of information and put it into a more logical, concise form. They learn best through readings, lectures, viewing analytical models, and having time to think things through.
Learning Style Inventory
Converging -dominantly use AC and AE. These types of learners find practical uses for ideas and theories. They learn best through experimenting with new ideas, simulations, lab assignments and practical applications.
Accommodating -dominantly use CE and AE. These types of learners favor “hands-on experience.” They learn best when working with others to finish assignments, set goals, field work, and testing ways to complete a project.
Classroom Implications for Teachers
Experiential learning is best focused on higher education-for students in colleges and universities.
Professors can provide quality lectures, thorough readings, and means to quality group work in a college setting.
Through technology, professors can teach online classes, create simulations, provide online and technical lab work for students, and virtual field work for fields that qualify.
Classroom Implications For Students
College students become more independent than they once were, making the ELT more applicable to the student, rather that the teacher.
A student can learn with subtle facilitation-such as online classes, readings/lectures, lab sessions, and field work. None of these take one-on-one facilitation.
Technology can play a great part in a learner’s experience with ELT such as online classes, etc. Virtual field work, online training, and model simulation can be used.
In My Classroom...
As an Elementary Ed major, I chose to research an upper level learning theory. This is how my students will learn in the future. As a teacher, it is my respondsibility to educate students in the best way possible so that they may attain a quality education. To teach with the ELT model at a young age may be helpful- I can utilize group work and hands-on experience so that my students may learn through doing. Cognitive reflection of the activity will allow the student to understand what they have learned through such experience.
For example, I could assign a group science project on which soil helps plants grow faster. Through this hands-on assignment, the students will not only perform the experiment, but learn how and what it takes for a plant to grow.