Kolb’s Learning Style

Experiential Learning Style

Experiential learning can called as a cyclical process that capitalizes on the participants’ experiences for knowledge acquisition. This process engages setting goals, thinking, planning, experimentation, accusation, supervision, and revision. By engaging in these activities, learners construct meaning in a unique way to themselves, unifying the cognitive, sentimental, and physical aspects of learning.

There are two separate linked series in the cycle of ELT model for learning, as a central principle of Kolb’s experiential learning theory: apprehension–comprehension (concrete experience-abstract conceptualization) and intension–extension (reflective observation- active experimentation). However, these logical facts must be combined according to happen learning. Apprehension-comprehension make hard to understand the experience understanding, while intension-extension contains the experience transformation. One without the other is not an efficient method for acquiring knowledge. The ELT model illustrates why learners approach is in such different manners but they develop in a healthy way. In fact, some individuals build larger proficiency in competitive learning environment.

The ELT model describes that during the learning process, learners must constantly select which abilities to exploit in a given learning situation and determine learning abilities that are on opposite ends of a continuum.

Indeed, learners approach the tasks of experience understanding and experience metamorphoses in various approaches. If a learner is more relaxing during getting new information in a concrete manner and actively experimenting during the attending of the experience, the learner must also beer some brief conceptualization and reflective supervision due to complete the cycle.

The learner who takes experiments through manipulating models in learning process must be able to conceive and constitute observations based on his/her experiences. This is at the heart of the ELT model and Kolb’s view of the adult learner. The learners begin with a tangible experience, which then guide them to monitor and reflect on their experience. After reflective observation, the learners provide brief concepts about what occurred, which will serve as leads for future actions. With these leads the learners examine what they have constructed for new experiences.

Learning Styles

Kolb believes that there are different entities which affect in learning style. In his experiential learning theory model (ELT), he has explained three parts of a person’s development and also has suggested that person’s tendency to determine the four different learning styles due to development in stages. The development parts that Kolb clarified are:

1-    Acquisition – birth to adolescence – development of basic abilities and ‘cognitive structures’

2-    Specialization – schooling, early work and personal experiences of adulthood – the development of a particular ‘specialized learning style’ shaped by ‘social, educational, and organizational socialization’

3-    Integration – mid-career through to later life – expression of non-dominant learning style in work and personal life.

Whatever influences the choice of style, the learning style preference itself is actually the product of two pairs of variables, or two separate ‘choices’ that we make, which Kolb presented as lines of axis, each with ‘conflicting’ modes at either end :

Concrete Experience – CE (feeling) —–V—–Abstract Conceptualization – AC (thinking)

Active Experimentation – AE (doing) —–V—– Reflective Observation – RO (watching)

A typical presentation of Kolb’s two connected series is that the east-west axis is called the Processing series (how we approach a task), and the north-south axis is called the Perception Series (our emotional response, or how we think or feel about it).

These learning styles are the combination of two lines of axis (continuums) each formed between what Kolb calls ‘dialectically related modes’ of ‘grasping experience’ (doing or watching), and ‘transforming experience’ (feeling or thinking):

The word ‘dialectically’ is not widely understood, and yet carries an essential meaning, namely ‘conflicting’ (its ancient Greek root means ‘debate’). Kolb meant by this that we cannot do both at the same time, and to an extent our urge to want to do both creates conflict, which can help to resolve through choice when compared with a new learning situation. People internally decide whether they will do or watch, and at the same time they decide whether they will think or feel.

Kolb’s learning styles can see on one matrix which separates four stages of learning styles in terms of a two by two matrix. The diagram also highlights Kolb’s terminology for the four learning styles; diverging, assimilating, and converging, accommodating:



(Active Experimentation – AE)


(Reflective Observation – RO)


(Concrete Experience – CE)

accommodating (CE/AE)

diverging (CE/RO)


(Abstract Conceptualization – AC)

converging (AC/AE)

assimilating (AC/RO)

Thus, for example, a person with a dominant learning style of ’doing’ rather than ‘watching’ the task, and ’feeling’ rather than ‘thinking’ about the experience, will have a learning style which combines and represents those processes, namely an ’Accommodating’ learning style, in Kolb’s terminology.


Relationship between learning styles model and experiential learning theory (ELT)

David Kolb’s learning styles are developed from Kurt Lewin’s four-stage model. Kolb has been believed that to be truly impressive, learning needs to carry through all four stages in the model. Every stage should apply a distinct set of learning strategies. In the context of learning to be a leader, the strategies apply as follows :

1-    Experiencing what it is like to be a leader.

2-    Reflecting on what you have experienced and observed.

3-    Forming beliefs about what it means to lead well.

4-    Testing the usefulness of these beliefs in new situations.

To enact and learn from each strategy, you need to draw on different abilities, including:

1-    Being disciplined enough to execute ideas and turn good intentions into action.

2-    Being open to reflecting on what you have experienced from a variety of perspectives.

3-    Using inductive reasoning to distil your reflections into mental models of what it means to lead well.

4-    Using intuition and deductive reasoning to identify situations in which you can experiment with these ideas.

These four abilities can be represented as two pairs of polar opposites:

Having developed the model over many years prior, David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984. The model gave rise to related terms such as Kolb’s experiential learning theory (ELT), and Kolb’s learning styles inventory (LSI). In his publications – notably his 1984 book ‘Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development’ Kolb acknowledges the early work on experiential learning by others in the 1900′s, including Rogers, Jung, and Piaget. In turn, Kolb’s learning styles model and experiential learning theory are today acknowledged by academics, teachers, managers and trainers as truly seminal works; fundamental concepts towards our understanding and explaining human learning behavior, and towards helping others to learn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>