Medicine,
Dentistry and
Veterinary Medicine
Celebrating 25 years of Kolb’s learning cycle:
An appreciative enquiry for 2009
Extracts from slide presentation by Reg Dennick, Professor in
Medical Education at the University of Nottingham – reproduced
with permission
www.medev.ac.uk
Experiential Learning
“Learning is the process
whereby knowledge is
created through the
transformation of
experience.”
David Kolb
Origins of the Kolb Cycle
Dewey
Lewin
Piaget
Importance
of individual
experience in
learning
How experience
can be
transformed into
action
Constructivist
mechanism of
learning:
experience to
abstraction
Other influences on Kolb
Vygotsky
Experiential
learning is a social
process and is
influenced by
cultural tools.
Jung
Psychological
types and
learning styles.
Individuation.
Freire
Experiential
learning as
liberating and
leading to
‘critical
consciousness’
The ‘Prehension’ dimension: modes of grasping
experience
Concrete Experience
APPREHENSION: the
tangible, felt qualities of
immediate experience
COMPREHENSION:
conceptual interpretation and
symbolic representations
Abstract conceptualisation
The ‘Transformation’ dimension: modes of
processing experience
EXTENSION: manipulation
of the external world
Active
experimentation
Reflective
observation
INTENTION:
manipulation of the mental
world
Structural dimensions underlying the process of experiential
learning and the resulting basic knowledge forms. (Kolb, 1984)
Concrete experience
Grasping by
APPREHENSION
Active experimentation
Transformation by
EXTENSION
INTENSION
Grasping by
COMPREHENSION
Abstract conceptualisation
Reflective
observation
What
shall I
do?
Outer world
Reflection and action
on inner world
produces conjectures
and hypotheses about
outer world
Reflection on outer
world builds up inner
model
Inner world
What does
it mean?
It’s not just a cycle!
• All four learning modes are present to the learner
simultaneously
• The learner is constantly moving between the
concrete and the abstract and between reflection and
action.
“…all forms of human adaptation (learning) approximate
to scientific inquiry.”
David Kolb 1984
Practical implications of Kolb’s
cycle for learning
•
•
•
•
•
Getting round the cycle
Appraisal & revalidation
Mentoring
Reflection
Action planning
Experiential learning
lAll learning is learning from experience
lWork-experience
l‘On the job training’
lDoing the job & learning simultaneously
lWorking independently
lSelf-directed learning
lSelf-monitoring
lReflection
lEducational & clinical supervision
lMentoring
lAppraisal
Getting the experiences
At each stage in the cycle, how can the learner optimise
their learning?
What stands in the way?
What opportunities are there?
Reflecting on experience
•
•
•
•
Debriefing
Getting feedback
Critical incidents
Self-evaluation
Building up knowledge, skills & attitudes
•
•
•
•
•
Reading the literature
Self-directed learning
Recording knowledge
Practising skills
Developing attitudes
Deciding on action
•
•
•
•
•
Personal development plans
Action plans
Personal objectives
Feasibility
Achievable?
How does reflection help you learn?
•
•
•
•
•
•
Experience is transformed into knowledge by reflection
Reflection elaborates learning
Reflection challenges assumptions
Reflection helps relate theory to practice
Feedback helps reflection
Reflection can be guided via ‘professional conversations’
Personal & professional development:
portfolio-based learning,
appraisal/supervision
• All based on and follow the Kolb cycle.
• Experiences are recorded in Log-book/Portfolio
• Reflections are recorded and/or facilitated by
‘professional conversation’ with mentor,
supervisor.
• Knowledge, skills and attitudes are built from
experience plus reflection and connected to the
literature and other knowledge tools.
• Action plans for further experience are formulated
via professional conversations.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: KEY PRINCIPLES
1.Have experiences
2. Reflect individually and/or with others
3. Be aware of your ‘learning style’
3. Get and give feedback
4. Actively build mental models, practical skills and
attitudes
5. Test hypotheses and action plan
6. Use Log Books & Portfolios to record experiences
and reflect
Criticisms of Kolb
• It doesn’t stress the social dimension of learning: it focuses
on the individual
• Some learners do not learn from experience
• Some learners do not reflect
• Skills can be learned without thought
• Ignores social dimension of learning
The basic knowledge forms (Kolb, 1984)
Concrete experience
ACCOMMODATIVE
knowledge
??
DIVERGENT
knowledge
?
?
Active experimentation
?
?
CONVERGENT
knowledge
?
?
?
?
Reflective
observation
ASSIMILATIVE
knowledge
Abstract conceptualisation
Doing things, carrying out plans and getting
Imaginative ability and awareness of
involved in new experiences. The individual
meanings and values. View situations from
adapts themselves to changing immediate
many perspectives and attempt to see the
circumstances. Problems are solved by trial and
whole picture. Thinking generates alternative
error often using other peoples knowledge.
ideas and implications. Good at
Theories are easily discarded and are subordinate
brainstorming. Interested in people and their
Concrete experience
to practical facts. Individuals are at ease with
feelings.
people but are often seen as ‘pushy’.
ACCOMMODATIVE
knowledge
Active experimentation
CONVERGENT
knowledge
DIVERGENT
knowledge
Reflective
observation
ASSIMILATIVE
knowledge
Problem solving, decision making and the
practical application of ideas. Thinking
converges onto the solution of a question or
Inductive reasoning and the creation of
problem, using the hypothetico-deductive
theoretical models by synthesising varied
method. Orientated towards technical tasks
observations into an integrated explanation.
and problems rather than social or
More concerned with logically sound abstract
Abstract conceptualisation
interpersonal issues.
ideas than people.
Doing things, carrying out plans and getting
involved in new experiences. The individual
adapts themselves to changing immediate
circumstances. Problems are solved by trial and
error often using other peoples knowledge.
Theories are easily discarded and are subordinate
to practical facts. Individuals are at ease with
people but are often seen as ‘pushy’.
Problem solving, decision making and the
practical application of ideas. Thinking
converges onto the solution of a question or
problem, using the hypothetico-deductive
method. Orientated towards technical tasks
and problems rather than social or
interpersonal issues.
Imaginative ability and awareness of
meanings and values. View situations from
many perspectives and attempt to see the
whole picture. Thinking generates alternative
ideas and implications. Good at
brainstorming. Interested in people and their
feelings.
Inductive reasoning and the creation of
theoretical models by synthesising varied
observations into an integrated explanation.
More concerned with logically sound abstract
ideas than people.
involved, openHoney & Mumford Learning Get
Styles
minded, enthusiastic,
Practical,
love new things: ‘I’ll try
experimental, down to
anything once’
Activists
earth: ‘There is always
a better way’
Pragmatists
Reflectors
Look for principles, logical,
perfectionist: ‘What are the
basic assumptions’
Theorists
Stand back, think,
cautious: ‘Look before
you leap’
H & M s c o r e s : 1 s t ye a r M e d ic s
A c tiv is t
20
10
P ra g m a tis t
0
R e f le c to r
1 s t Y e a r M e d ic s
S c ie n tis ts /e n g in e e rs
T h e o ris t
T&L Masters 2003
Pragmatist
Activist
20
15
10
5
0
Theorist
Reflector
T&L Masters 2006
Masters T&L 06
Activist
20
15
10
5
Pragmatist
0
Theorist
Reflector
Deep Learning (Going round the cycle)
Concrete experience
Active experimentation
Abstract
conceptualisation
Reflective
Observation
Surface Learning (short-circuit!)
Concrete experience
Active experimentation
Abstract
conceptualisation
Reflective
Observation
Trial & Error?
Concrete experience
Active experimentation
Abstract
conceptualisation
Reflective
Observation
As Kolb said…..
Psychological categorizations of people such as
those depicted by psychological ‘types’ can too easily
become stereotypes that tend to trivialize human
complexity and thus end up denying human
individuality rather than characterizing it. In addition,
type theories often have a static and fixed
connotation to their descriptions of individuals,
lending a fatalistic view of human change and
development.
–
Kolb, Experiential Learning (1982) p 63
Constructive Experience: implications for teaching.
1.Acknowledge and respect the learner and start from where
they are.
2.Ascertain, activate and build on their prior knowledge.
3.Provide appropriate active learning experiences of an
individual and social nature.
4.Facilitate reflection and provide feedback.
5.Recognise the tentative nature of knowledge and
encourage enquiry.
6.Encourage individual responsibility for exploration, selfdirected learning and action planning.
7.Develop a learning relationship, empathise.
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