Kolb's Model Of Experiential Learning

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Kolb's model of experiential learning

Kolb's model of experiential learning


David Kolb developed the Learning Style Inventory for the purpose of measuring the learning style preferences defined by his theory of experiential learning. Reviewers have considered the theory straightforward and the LSI as showing considerable face validity. Educators and trainers have used both the theory and the inventory in diverse disciplines including secondary education, higher education, organizational development, medicine, engineering, and agriculture. The increased use of Kolb's model of learning by counselors because it can provide an abstract representational model of the counseling process. Some counselors have already found the theory and the instrument useful in several ways. Abbey, Hunt, and Wiser 11985 have adapted Kolb's conception of experiential learning as a model for understanding clients and counselors in the supervision process. Vince, (1998, 304-319) matched counselor and client on learning styles with the LSI to facilitate favorable counseling outcomes. Cottrell, (2003, 75-96) designed an introductory counseling course around the theory to address the learning style of each student. Kolb, & Lingham, (2002, 236-289) incorporated Kolb's theory into a method for promoting ethical reasoning among counselor trainees.

The Kolb Learning Style: Reflective Observation

Every person learns in a different manner. From kindergarten to postgraduate levels students learn and they do it in their own particular, individual learning styles. Some children pick something up the first time they hear it while others may not understand a concept until they've had the chance to see it in print, or to write it themselves. These people all use special learning modalities. There are four basic ways in which people learn. Auditory learners gain information with the use of their ears, visual learning with the use of our eyes, kinesthetic learning from our muscles and skin and finally photographic learners use all of their senses to obtain information. Everyone gains information by all of these means, yet some people favor one aspect over another.

Kolb's Experimental Learning Model (ELM) is a simple model that summarizes learning as a four-stage, cyclical, problem-solving process. In this process, Concrete Experience is followed by Reflection and Observation. This, in turn, leads to the formulation of Abstract Concepts and Generalizations. The implications of the Abstract Conceptualization or Generalization are then tested in new situations through Active Experimentation (Kolb, 2003, pp. 321-345).

This learning cycle is continuous. Consistent with observations made about the characteristics of adult learners, previous learning influences current learning and current learning influences future learning in the training process. Further, because the learning process is cyclical, it is possible to begin new learning at any stage of the process.

Kolb's learning inventory describes a learning process and a style, which makes it quite interesting. First Kolb showed that learning styles could be seen on a continuum running from:

Concrete experience: being involved in a new experience

Reflective observation: watching others or developing observations about own experience

Abstract conceptualization

Creating theories to explain observations, active experimentation: using theories to solve problems make decisions

Vince, (1998, ...
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