Kolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle Assignment

Kolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle Assignment Words: 1869

Key influences on the personal learning processes of individuals’ David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984 from which he developed his learning style inventory. ‘Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience’ (David A. Kolb 1984). He believed that our individual learning styles emerge due to our genetics, life experiences, and the demands of our current environment. The Experiential Learning Cycle Kolb’s experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner ‘touches all the bases’: 1.

Concrete Experience – (a new experience of situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience). 2. Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding). 3. Abstract Conceptualization (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept). 4. Active Experimentation (the learner applies them to the world around them to see what results). Kolb’s learning theory (1975) sets out four distinct learning styles, which are based on a four-stage learning cycle.

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Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style. Various factors influence a person’s preferred style for example their social environment, their educational experiences or the cognitive structure of the individual. Whatever influences the choice of style, the learning style itself is the product of two separate ‘choices’ that we make, which Kolb presented as lines of axis, each with ‘conflicting’ modes at either end, Kolb believed that we cannot perform both variables on a single axis at the same time (think and feel).

Each learning style represents a combination of two preferred styles. The diagram also highlights Kolb’s terminology for the four learning styles; diverging, assimilating, and converging, accommodating: Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO) These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. Kolb called this style ‘diverging’ because these people perform better in situations that require for example, brainstorming/mind mapping.

People with a diverging learning style like to gather information. They tend to be imaginative and emotional people. People with the diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback. Assimilating (watching and thinking – AC/RO) The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organizing it a clear logical format.

People with an assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through. Converging (doing and thinking – AC/AE) People with a converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues.

They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. People with a converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems. People with a converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. People with a converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications. Accommodating (doing and feeling – CE/AE)

The Accommodating learning style is ‘hands-on’, and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people’s analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans. They commonly act on ‘gut’ instinct rather than logical analysis. People with an accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis. Various theories refer to the terms ‘activist’, ‘reflector’, ‘theorist’, and ‘pragmatist’ in looking to explain Kolb’s model.

The terms ‘activist’, ‘reflector’, ‘theorist’, and ‘pragmatist’ are from a learning styles model developed by Honey and Mumford, which although based on Kolb’s work, is different. Peter Honey and Alan Mumford developed their learning styles system as a variation on the Kolb model while working on a project for the Chloride corporation in the 1970’s. Honey and Mumford say: “Our description of the stages in the learning cycle originated from the work of David Kolb. Kolb uses different words to describe the stages of the learning cycle and four learning styles” (Honey & Mumford). Here are the four H&M key stages/styles: 1. Having an Experience’ (stage 1), and Activists (style 1): ‘here and now’, gregarious, seek challenge and immediate experience, open-minded, bored with implementation. STRENGTHS: Flexible and open-minded, happy to “have a go”, enjoys new situations, optimistic about anything new – therefore unlikely to resist change. WEAKNESSES: Tendency to take the immediately obvious course of action without weighing up other possibilities, tendency to do too much themselves, tendency to hog the limelight, often take unnecessary risks, Goes into action without sufficient preparation, Gets bored with implementation and consolidation. . ‘Reviewing the Experience’ (stage 2) and Reflectors (style 2): ‘stand back’, gather data, ponder and analyse, delay reaching conclusions, listen before speaking, thoughtful. STRENGTHS: Careful, thorough and methodical, thoughtful, good at listening and assimilating information, rarely jump to conclusions. WEAKNESSES: Tendency to hold back from direct participation, slow to make up their minds and reach a decision, tendency to be too cautious and not take enough risks, not usually assertive. 3. Concluding from the Experience’ (stage 3) and Theorists (style 3): think things through in logical steps, assimilate disparate facts into coherent theories, rationally objective, reject subjectivity and flippancy. STRENGTHS: Logical, vertical thinkers, rational and objective, disciplined approach, good at asking questions. WEAKNESSES: Restricted in lateral thinking, low tolerance for uncertainty, disorder or ambiguity, intolerant of anything subjective or intuitive, full of “shoulds”, “oughts” and “musts”. 4. Planning the next steps’ (stage 4) and Pragmatists (style 4): seek and try out new ideas, practical, down-to-earth, enjoy problem solving and decision-making quickly, bored with long discussions. STRENGTHS: Keen to test things out in practice, practical and realistic, down to earth and business-like; gets straight to the point, technique oriented. WEAKNESSES: Tendency to reject anything without an obvious application, not very interested in theory or basic principles, tendency to seize on the first expedient solution to a problem, impatient with “waffle”, task-oriented rather than people-oriented.

I have done the Honey and Mumford questionnaire to find out what type of learning style I adopt and I have found out that I am a reflector. The characteristics of a reflector are that I like to observe from the edge of a group, I consider things from a range of different perspectives, I collect information before drawing conclusions and I let others contribute before I do. Reflectors preferred learning situations are observing from the edge of a group, having time to think before contributing, analysing and working without tight deadlines.

Reflectors less favourable learning situations are taking a lead or preforming in front of others, having no time to prepare in advance, facing the unexpected and feeling rushed or pressurised by deadlines. I agree with all of these and I think that this questionnaire has matched me correctly to a reflector. All of these aspects have affected my learning in college because I like to observe from the edge of the group rather than put my ideas out there, this could have affected me and other people in a negative way because I am using everyone else’s ideas and my ideas in my assignment but other people haven’t heard my ideas.

This has also affected me because when doing group work I regularly have other people’s ideas and then I struggle when it comes to doing work on my own. I don’t like talking in a group or taking the lead in front of people, especially people I don’t know because I don’t have any confidence in myself and even though I know I have a valid point or a right answer to a question I won’t speak out because I think people will judge me and my answer and even though I know it’s right I will still question it and think it’s wrong.

Before I start an assignment or whilst I’m doing an assignment I like to collect information from different sources for example internet, teacher, books. I like to have good knowledge of the task before I sit down to write it and so I don’t get myself muddled up I like to break down the work into sections before I start so I specifically know what I have to write and do to achieve the criteria.

I like having a deadline to work to so I can work out how long I can spend on it each day and what I have to put in it every day to meet the deadline with the best work possible, it frustrates me when there is a tight deadline because I don’t like rushing as I forget vital parts of information and then I feel like I’ve failed because I know I’ve done it to the best of my ability in that given amount of time but I know if I had had longer that I would have been able to do it better.

I think I am definitely a reflector because I match all of the reflector criteria. When group situations arise in college or work, even though I don’t like doing it but I need to be more confident in myself and speak out, because I have identified my weaknesses I now know that I need to build my confidence and don’t question myself that I’m wrong even though I know I’m right, I need to not care if other people judge me because it doesn’t matter if people have got negative things to say.

My peers at college have influenced my learning because at the start of the year I didn’t know anyone in my group so I had to be confident and work and speak in a group and also they always give me feedback on my work, positive and criticism which helps me improve next time I do it. In Kolb’s theory I prefer the Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO) learning style, which is: These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems.

Kolb called this style ‘diverging’ because these people perform better in situations that require for example, brainstorming/mind mapping. People with a diverging learning style like to gather information. They tend to be imaginative and emotional people. People with the diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback. This is matched to me because I like to gather information and use my imagination before solving problems. I like to gather information and do things like brainstorming and mind mapping. http://www. businessballs. com/kolblearningstyles. htm

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