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Experiential Learning Theory

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Tram Ly

on 29 November 2015

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Transcript of Experiential Learning Theory

Experiential Learning Theory
Experiential learning theory (ELT) draws on the work of prominent 20th century scholars such as John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, William James, CarlJung, Paulo Freire, Carl Rogers and others to develop a dynamic, holistic model of the process of learning from experience and a multi-linear model of adult development.
Concrete Experience (CE)
: being involved in a new experience.
Reflective Observation (RO)
: watching others or developing observations about one’s own experience.
Abstract Conceptualization (AC)
: creating theories to explain observations.
Active Experimentation (AE)
using theories to solve problems, make decisions.
David A. Kolb
David Kolb is the founder and chairman of Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc. (EBLS) and professor of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. Kolb earned his BA from Knox College in 1961 and his MA and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1964 and 1967 respectively, in social psychology. He is the recipient of four honorary degrees recognizing his contribution to experiential learning in higher education.

In the early 1970s, Kolb and Ron Fry (now both at the Weatherhead School of Management) developed the Experiential Learning Model (ELM), composed of four elements : concrete experience, abstract conceptualization, reflective observation and active experimentation.
He is the author of Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development, and the creator of the Kolb Learning Style Inventory. Other works include, Conversational Learning: An experiential approach to knowledge creation, Innovation in professional education: Steps on a journey from teaching to learning, Organizational Behavior: An experiential approach, and numerous journal articles on experiential learning. He is the recipient of four honorary degrees recognizing his contribution to experiential learning in higher education.
“Learning as a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience.” (Kolb, 1984, p. 41)
First Level:
Second Level:

Diverging (CE & RO)
: to move apart
Assimilating (AC & RO)
: to absorb – take up mentally
Converging (AC & AE)
: to come together
Accommodating (CE &AE)
: adapt-make fit-change to suit new purpose
Kolb also claimed that the learning style preference is the product of two pairs of variables

Concrete Experience (feeling) vs Abstract Conceptualization (thinking)
Active Experimentation (doing) vs Reflective Observation (watching)
The continuums show that we cannot do both at the same time.To pursue this would create conflict. When involved in a new learning situation we make a choice to do or watch and at the same time to think or feel.
The east to west axis is called the Processing Continuum (how we approach a task), and the north to south axis is called the Perception Continuum (our emotional response).
What experiential learning is, and what it is not:

Experience is used to test out ideas and assumptions rather than to passively obtain practice. It is active exploration.

Experiential learning is not the same as discovery learning. Activities must be carefully designed by teachers, and learners must reflect on their experience in a critical way.

(Gibbs, 1987)
Four typed learning styles each representing a combination of two preferred styles mentioned previously. Influenced by personality type, educational specialization, career choice, and current job role and tasks.
Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes. To improve
learning in higher education, the primary focus should be on engaging students in a
process that best enhances their learning – a process that includes feedback on the
effectiveness of their learning efforts. “…education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience: … the process and goal of education are one and the same
thing.” (Dewey 1897: 79)
All learning is re-learning. Learning is best facilitated by a process that draws out the students’ beliefs and ideas about a topic so that they can be examined, tested and integrated with new, more refined ideas.
Learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically opposed modes
of adaptation to the world.
Learning is a holistic process of adaptation. It encompasses other specialized models of adaptation from the scientific
method to problems solving, decision making and creativity.
Learning results from synergetic transactions between the person and the environment.
create themselves through the choice of actual occasions they live through.
Learning is the process of creating knowledge. ELT proposes a constructivist
theory of learning whereby social knowledge is created and recreated in the personal knowledge of the learner.
“…concrete experiences come through the sensory
cortex, reflective observation involves the integrative cortex at the back, creating new
abstract concepts occurs in the frontal integrative cortex, and active testing involves the
motor brain. In other words, the learning cycle arises from the structure of the brain.”
(Zull 2002: 18)
"Recent theoretical and empirical work shows that the original four learning styles
types can be refined to show nine distinct style types (Eickmann, Kolb & Kolb 2004, Kolb & Kolb 2005a, Boyatzis & Mainemelis 2000).
David Hunt and his associates
(Abby, Hunt and Weiser 1985, Hunt 1987) identified four additional learning styles
which they identified as Northerner, Easterner, Southerner, and Westerner.
In addition a Balancing learning style has been identified by Mainemelis, Boyatzis and Kolb (2002) that integrates AC and CE and AE and RO".
Learning Space
Idefined by the attracting and repelling forces (positive and negative valences) of action/reflection and experiencing/conceptualizing, creating a two dimensional map of the regions of the learning space.
Emphasizes that learning is not one universal.
It is a holistic framework that orients the many different ways of learning to one another.
The process of experiential learning can be viewed as a process of locomotion through the learning regions that is influenced by a person’s position in the learning space. One’s position in the learning space defines their experience and thus defines their “reality”.
Development and Deep Learning
The ELT developmental model (Kolb, 1984) defines three stages:

, from birth to adolescence where basic abilities and cognitive structures develop.

, from formal schooling through the early work and personal experiences of adulthood where social, educational, and organizational socialization forces shape the development of a particular, specialized learning style.

in mid-career and later life where non-dominant modes of learning are expressed in work and personal life.

Development through these stages is characterized by increasing complexity and relativism in adapting to the world and by increased integration of the dialectic conflicts between AC and CE and AE and RO.
Integrated deep learning is a process
involving a creative tension among the four learning modes that is responsive to
contextual demands. This is portrayed as an idealized learning cycle or spiral where the
learner "touches all the bases"--experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting--in a
recursive process that is responsive to the learning situation and what is being learned.
Development toward deep learning is divided into three levels.

First level
is registrative and performance oriented emphasizing the two learning styles.
Second level
is interpretative and learning oriented involving three learning styles.
Third level
is integrative and development oriented involving all four learning styles in a holistic learning process.
Deeper interpretative learning can be enhanced by the addition of activities to stimulate reflection such as reflective journals, debriefing,etc.
Linking these to the conceptual material related to the experience adds the fourth learning mode,
abstraction and integration
though completion of the learning spiral.

Respect for Learners and their Experience
Begin Learning with the Learner’s Experience of the Subject Matter
Creating and Holding a Hospitable Space for Learning
Making Space for Conversational Learning
Making Spaces for Acting and Reflecting
Making Spaces for Feeling and Thinking
Making Space for Inside-out Learning
Making Space for Development of Expertise
Making Space for Learners to Take Charge of their own Learning
How to Promote Experiential Learning Theory in Education
Critique of ELT Research
Most of the debate and critique has centered on the psychometric properties of the Learning System Inventory (LSI). Results in revising the LSI in 1985, in 1999 and again in 2005 (Kolb and Kolb 2005b).
Recent critique has been more focused on the theory and underlying assumptions of ELT from what might be called a critical theory perspective where the theory is seen as individualistic, cognitivist, and technological.
Kayes (2002) has reviewed these and other critics of ELT and offered his own critique of the critics. He suggests that critics have overlooked the role of Vygotsky’s social constructivist learning theory in the ELT theory of development and the role of personal knowledge and social knowledge in experiential learning. He proposes an extension of ELT based on Lacan’s poststructuralist analysis that elaborates the fracture between personal and social knowledge and the role that language plays in shaping experience.
ELT is a dynamic view of learning based on a learning cycle driven by the resolution of the dual dialectics of action/reflection and experience/abstraction.
It is a holistic theory that defines learning as the major process of human adaptation involving the whole person.
ELT is applicable not only in the formal education classroom but in all arenas of life.
The key concepts from ELT: the learning cycle, learning style, learning space, deep learning and development. They can also serve as useful tools to design and implement education programs in higher education and management training and development.
Research based on ELT has been conducted all around the world supporting the cross-cultural applicability of the model.
The key challenges ahead lie in the application and institutionalization of these practices in order to improve management education, learning and development.
Examples of Applying Experiential Learning Theory into Nursing Education

This qualitative study aimed to investigate the students' experiences and thoughts about their learning through simulation skills training. The sample includes ten third-year undergraduate nursing students practiced in pair using the virtual reality simulator UrecathVision((TM)) to perform urethral catheterization. Each session was videotaped and reviewed subsequently. Three themes were then formulated after analyzation as: what the students learn, how the students learn, and the simulator's contribution to the students' learning. Among the findings, the students depended on the previous experiences to work on the new task, practiced techniques in a hands-on fashion, as well as reflected in and on action. The simulator acted as a facilitator to learning the manual skills. In conclusion, this study design was found to enhance opportunities for reflection.

Using different learning theory frameworks, especially one by Marton and Booth during data analysis, helps to explain and guide the direction of the study on the experience of learning. They divided the themes based on the essence of “what they learn” and “how they learn”. This article has shown many positive results on what the students can learn, how to perform a specific procedure like catherization as well as professional behavior by preparing, watching, then practicing and reflecting in and on action. According to Johannesson et al., learning manual skills is a fundamental part of health care education, and motor, sensory and cognitive learning processes are essential aspects of professional development. With the help of the simulator, students have the opportunity to prepare for the skills training, to see anatomical structures, to feel resistance, and to become aware of their own performance ability.

Brackenreg, J. (2004). Issues in reflection and debriefing: how nurse educators structure experiential activities.
Nurse Education In Practice
, 4(4), 264-270.
The study used Lewinian model described by Kolb and the structuring approach byThiagarajan as the theoretical framework. Eight experienced university educators were interviewed to provide elicited descriptions of how they constructed experiential activities with special reference to their descriptions of how the debriefing or reflective phases were structured.

Experiential learning is particularly useful in vocational education programs where theory needs to be linked to practice. Although experiential learning is often advocated in nursing education and the importance of debriefing and reflection is almost always espoused, the focus in the literature has tended to be on detailed descriptions of the action phase with little close analysis of how the reflective phase is facilitated. Results of the study show exxplication of the entire planned experiential learning experience is important for increasing the chances of the student being able to close the experiential learning loop. The more covert reflective phases for facilitating experiential learning are crucial and if neglected, or inexpertly and insensitively handled, may at best lead to poor learning outcomes or at worst lead to emotional damage and 'unfinished business' for the student.
What are the learning styles of ELT?
1. Accomodating and Diverging
2. Accomodating and Converging
3. Diverging and Assimilation
4. Assimilation, Accomodating, Converging and Diverging
Kolb's model also suggests ways of activities can engage different types of learners.

Role-Play activities
allow users to adopt a persona different from their own, giving them the ability to do things they cannot ordinarily do. Accommodating learning type.
employs a model of the real world that users can manipulate to explore a system. It involves direct engagement with representations of data with some degree of generalization or abstraction. Assimilation or Converging type.
Creative Production
emphasizes both open-ended self-expression and the application of subject knowledge and concepts to building some kind of product such as a presentation, research cases, etc. Divergent type.

Brackenreg, J. (2004). Issues in reflection and debriefing: How nurse educators structure experiential activities. Nurse Education in Practice, 4(4), 264-70. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nepr.2004.01.005

Dewey, J. (1897). My pedagogic creed. The school journal. LIV(3):77-80.

Gibbs, G (1987). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Birmingham: FEU Birmingham Polytechnic.

Johannesson, E., Silen, C., Kvist, J., & Hult, H. (2013). Students' experiences of learning manual clinical skills through simulation. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 18(1), 99-114. doi: 10.1007/s10459-012-9358-z

Kayes, D. C. (2002). Experiential Learning and Its Critics. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 1(2): 137-149. Retrieved September 27 from http://learningfromexperience.com/research_library/experiential-learning-and-its-critics/

Kolb, A., & Kolb, D. (1981). Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from http://learningfromexperience.com/

Kolb, A. Y. & Kolb, D. A. (2006). A review of Multidisciplinary application of experiential learning theory in higher education. In Sims, R., and Sims, S. (Eds.). Learning styles and learning: A key to meeting the accountability demands in education.
Hauppauge, NY: Nova Publishers.

Kolb, A. Y. & Kolb, D. A. (2005a). Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancingexperiential learning in higher education. Academy of Management Learning and Education. 4(2): 193-212

Kolb, A., & Kolb, D. (2008). Experiential Learning Theory: A Dynamic, Holistic Approach to Management Learning, Education and Development. In Armstrong, S. J. & Fukami, C. (Eds.) Handbook of Management Learning,
Education and Development. London: Sage Publications, 2008. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://learningfromexperience.com/media/2010/08/ELT-Hbk-MLED-LFE-website-2-10-08.pdf

Kolb, D. A. (1981). Disciplinary inquiry norms and student learning styles: Diverse pathways for growth. In A. Chickering (Ed.), The modern American College . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall.

Kolb, D. A., R. E. Boyatzis, and C. Mainemelis. (1999). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. In R. J. Sternberg and L. F. Zhang (Eds.), Perspectives on Cognitive, Learning, and Thinking styles. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2000

Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R. E., & Mainemelis, C. (2001). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. In R. Sternberg and L. Zhang (Eds.) Perspectives on cognitive learning, and thinking styles. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Schaller, D., & Allison-Bunnell, S. (2004). Practicing what we teach: How learning theory can guide development of online educational activities. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://www.eduweb.com/practice_teach_full.html

Zull, J. E. (2002). The art of changing the brain: Enriching teaching by exploring the biology of learning. Sterling, VA:tylus.

(Kolb et al., 1999)
Kolb's model of learning styles
Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=kolb%27s+experiential+learning+theory&num=50&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAmoVChMImuG2lpGtyAIVA5qACh3xdAL6&biw=1706&bih=766#imgrc=RFXC6XwPofNaQM%3A
(Kolb & Kolb, 2008 )
(Kolb & Kolb, 2008 )
The Learning Style Inventory (LSI)
describes the way you learn and how you deal with ideas and day-to-day situations. We all learn in different ways. This inventory can serve as a stimulus for you to interpret and reflect on the ways you prefer to learn in specific settings. Learning can be described as a cycle made up of four basic processes. The LSI takes you through those processes to give you better understanding of how you learn.
Assessment tools
The Adaptive Style Inventory (ASI)
is a self-scoring inventory designed to help you understand and improve your approach to learning and problem solving situations. The purpose of the ASI is to help you understand how you adapt your learning style to four different kinds of learning situations: Acting situations, Valuing situations, Thinking situations and Deciding situations.
The Learning Skills Profile (LSP)
is self-scoring inventory designed to help you assess the major skills you may be called upon to use in your job. These learning skills are what enable you to do a job well. The Learning Skills Model encompasses four major skill types that directly correlate with four modes in the Cycle of Experiential Learning: Interpersonal skills, Informational skills, Analytical skills and Behavioral Skills. By comparing your skill level with your current job demands you can identify areas of strength and weakness that will assist you in setting goals for learning skills development.
(Kolb & Kolb,2008)
(Kolb & Kolb, 2008)
(Kolb & Kolb, 2008)
(Kolb & Kolb, 2008)
NURS 5203
Click to view video
(Kolb & Kolb, 2008)
Johannesson, E., Silen, C., Kvist, J., & Hult, H. (2013). Students' experiences of learning manual clinical skills through simulation. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 18(1), 99-114. doi: 10.1007/s10459-012-9358-z
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