What is Kolb’s Learning Cycle?

Kolb’s learning cycle is a well-established educational theory that argues that people learn from their life’s experiences. This involves people reflecting on and conceptualizing these experiences. The learning cycle includes four stages and is directly related to Kolb’s learning theory that establishes four distinct learning styles. Kolb’s theory states that people naturally prefer their own individualized learning style that is influenced by various factors like educational experiences, social environment and cognitive functioning.

The Learning Cycle

The first stage is basic human experiences that occur at home, school, work and in public. The locations are limitless and there are countless opportunities for people to stimulate their own learning cycle. The second stage involves reflective observation, which means the persons thinks about what they have experienced and accomplished. Some people excel at conducting self-inventories and self-analysis, but other people need to be trained how to review, compare and record their experiences.

Stage three, abstract conceptualization, occurs when people transition from thinking about experiences to cognitively interpreting and categorizing them. When people conceptualize their experiences, they create a hypothesis about the meaning and purpose. Stage four, active experimentation, occurs when people test their internal hypotheses in new situations and experiences. Based on results, people either accept or reject their internal hypotheses.

Diverging and Assimilating Learning Styles

Diverging-based learning is when people use their feelings or observations to acquire new knowledge. Certain people are sensitive to themselves, others and the environment. They may excel at looking at things from different perspectives and prefer to use their imagination to solve problems. They are good at objectively analyzing situations through several different viewpoints. This diverging learning style is for people who perform better in situations that require innovation and brainstorming. These learners tend to be sociable, imaginative and emotional. They may have broad cultural interests and enjoy the arts.

Assimilating-based learning involves watching and thinking to create a concise, logical approach. Internal ideas and abstract concepts are more important than communicating with people. These learners need a clear, factual explanation instead of discussion and practical opportunities. These people excel at understanding and synthesizing a wide scope of information in order to organize it into logical formats. People with this learning style are more attracted to logical theories than practical experiments.

Converging and Accommodating Learning Styles

Converging learners enjoy doing and thinking to solve problems and discover new solutions to practical issues. They tend to prefer technical tasks and are less concerned with interpersonal relationships. These people excel at finding and finalizing the best practical uses for ideas and theories. These learners can make decisions and solve problems by finding solutions to questions. Most of these people are better at technical tasks, so they tend to work in IT, medicine, business and engineering.

Accommodating learners must experience doing and feeling things in order to stimulate their intuition. Instead of using their own logic, they rely on other people’s ideas and analysis. They prefer practical approaches and are attracted to new challenges and experiences. Accommodating-based learning is the most common learning style prevalent within the general population.

When it comes to the educational implications, Kolb’s Learning Cycle can be used by teachers to critically evaluate methods, design customized activities and develop more appropriate learning opportunities.