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Kolb's Theory of Experiential Learning

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Emilie C

on 24 October 2013

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Transcript of Kolb's Theory of Experiential Learning

Kolb's Theory of Experiential Learning
Experiential Learning Theory
Kolb (1984) defined learning as:
"the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience"(p.209).

Viewed learning as a person-environment transaction.
Learning styles are viewed not as fixed traits but instead as "stable" states
Learning and Development
Learning as a "central life task" and has 3 different phases:
Acquisition- birth until adolescence
Specialization- formal schooling/career training & early experiences of adulthood
Integration- mid-career, emphasizes experience of non-dominant adaptive modes

Looks at 4 Learning Cycles:
1. Concrete Experience (CE)- full and unbiased involvement (doing/feeling)

2. Reflective Observation (RO)- contemplation of one's experiences from various perspectives (watching)

3. Abstract Conceptualiztion (AC)- idea formulation and integration (thinking/analyzing)

4. Active Experimentation (AE)- Incorporation of new ideas into action (applying/testing)

Kolb's Learning Style Model
Implications for academic disciplines:
Norms can become exclusionary as one learning style may be favored.

Convergers: physical sciences/engineering
Divergers: humanities/liberal arts
Assimilators: basic sciences/math
Accommodators: business

*Students who match style in these areas may be more successful.

Learning and Development
Characterized by:
Increased complexity and relativism in dealing with the world
Increased integration of four learning cycle components

**The ability to adapt by using non-dominant modes is important for personal fulfillment but also for cultural development

Learning is dynamic
Students learn differently
Everyone learns from his/her own experience
Individuals enter the learning cycle at their preferred phase
We learn best when we move through the cycles
*Best case scenario: we do not stay stuck in the same phase we entered

Influenced by:
Previous educational theorists:
Piaget (1971)
Dewey (1958)
Lewin (1951)
Therapeutic psychologies:
Jung (1960)
Radical educators:
Freire (1973, 1974)
Brain research:
Illich (1972)
Left brain/right brain discoveries
Strengths & Weaknesses

For student affairs-
this theory assists in
providing different types of
support and information,
fostering connections,
and building on individual strengths.

Learners can better strengthen their learning by being aware of which styles are natural for them

For instructors- more diverse evaluation and instruction can be provided to both accommodate and challenge different learning styles.
Learning requires abilities that are polar opposites.

Learners must choose which learning abilities they will use each time they encounter a learning situation.

Traditional lecture & note-taking is inconsistent with accommodator's more active modes of preferred learning.

Educators should provide both challenge and support for different styles by offering different activities and methods of instruction.


Individuals who are too embedded in their styles are likely to show short-comings
(too much of one trait and not enough of another)

Does not address:
the role of intelligence (or multiple intelligences) or cognitive complexity.
relationship between race, gender, and culture.
non-traditional students (adult learners, first-generation, etc.)
*heavy emphasis on formal education and traditional careers.

Any educational function
(programming, counseling, educating, or training) that student affairs departments perform can be seen as more or less accessible depending on which learning styles are addressed

Conclusion for Student Affairs:
Full transcript