David Kolb’s Learning Styles is a part of our descriptive series on organizational learning and development and covers a comprehensive guide on the 13 different learning styles that you must know as an L&D Manager or a Course Designer.
As students, we all have our own unique way of learning. While some of us may prefer to read and take notes, others may learn better through hands-on activities. The concept of learning styles has been around for many years, but it was David Kolb who brought it to the forefront in the 1970s. Kolb developed a model that suggests that there are four main learning styles, each of which is based on a different way of approaching and experiencing the learning process.
David Kolb’s 4 Learning Styles?
David Kolb’s Learning Style is composed of 4 elements, which he called diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating. These styles are based on two different dimensions of learning: how we process information and how we engage with the world around us.
- Diverging: This learning style involves the processing of concrete experiences and the use of reflective observation. People who learn this way tend to be imaginative, creative, and emotional. They prefer to work in groups and value interpersonal relationships.
- Assimilating: This learning style involves the processing of abstract concepts and the use of reflective observation. People who learn this way tend to be logical, analytical, and systematic. They prefer to work alone and value knowledge and understanding.
- Converging: This learning style involves the processing of abstract concepts and the use of active experimentation. People who learn this way tend to be practical, problem-solving, and technically oriented. They prefer to work with things rather than people.
- Accommodating: This learning style involves the processing of concrete experiences and the use of active experimentation. People who learn this way tend to be hands-on, experiential, and action-oriented. They prefer to work with people rather than things.
According to Kolb, our basic learning style is determined by our individual preference for one of the four learning styles mentioned above. Our basic learning style influences how we perceive and process information, and how we engage with the world around us.
What is David Kolb’s 4 experiential learning Cycle?
David Kolb’s Learning Styles model suggests that learning involves a four stage learning cycle: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. In other words, learning occurs when we have a new experience, reflect on that experience, create new ideas based on our reflection, and test those ideas in new situations. They are also known as Kolb’s learning cycle
- Concrete experience: This stage involves having a new experience, whether it is something we see, hear, feel, taste, or touch. It is the starting point of the learning process.
- Reflective observation: This stage involves reflecting on our experience and observing what happened, what we felt, and what we learned. It is a chance to consider our experience from different angles and perspectives.
- Abstract conceptualization: This stage involves creating new ideas and theories based on our reflection. We might develop a new hypothesis, theory, or concept that explains our experience.
- Active experimentation: This stage involves testing our new ideas and theories in new situations. We might try out a new approach, test a hypothesis, or apply a new concept to a different situation.
David Kolb’s Learning Styles: Examples
To give an example of David Kolb’s Learning Styles model, let’s say you are learning how to swim. Your experience of jumping into the pool for the first time would be the concrete experience stage. Reflecting on your experience and observing how your body feels as you move through the water would be the reflective observation stage. Developing a theory about how to swim based on your reflection would be the abstract conceptualization stage. Finally, actively experimenting with different swimming techniques would be the active experimentation stage. This forms a core component of the instructional techniques that might aid to quick learning
David Kolb’s Learning Styles: Importance
David Kolb’s Learning Styles theory or experiential learning theory are important because it recognizes that people learn in different ways and that effective learning involves both the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills through experience. Understanding your own learning style can help you identify the best ways to learn new things, while teachers and educators can use Kolb’s model to design more effective learning experiences that meet the needs of all learners.
What is Kolb’s model of reflection?
David Kolb’s Learning Styles model of reflection is a structured approach to reflecting on experiences and learning from them. It involves four stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. By following this model, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their experiences and develop new insights and perspectives that can inform future actions and behaviors.
What is the difference between VARK and David Kolb’s Learning Styles?
VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic) is another model that categorizes learners into different styles based on their preferences for how information is presented to them. While both VARK and Kolb’s models aim to help individuals understand their learning style, VARK focuses on how learners prefer to receive information, while Kolb’s model focuses on how learners engage with and process information through experience.
How is Kolb’s model of reflection used?
David Kolb’s Learning Styles model of reflection can be used in a variety of settings, including education, training, and personal development. Individuals can use the model to reflect on their experiences, gain new insights and perspectives, and develop new strategies for approaching similar situations in the future. Teachers and educators can use the model to design more effective learning experiences and help students develop critical thinking skills and the ability to learn from their experiences.
How do you use Kolb’s learning cycle in the classroom?
In the classroom, teachers can use David Kolb’s Learning Styles cycle to design more effective learning experiences that meet the needs of all learners. For example, a lesson on a historical event could begin with a concrete experience, such as a field trip to a historical site. Students can then engage in reflective observation, discussing what they saw and experienced at the site. Next, they can engage in abstract conceptualization, analyzing the historical context and developing new theories and ideas about the event. Finally, students can engage in active experimentation, applying what they have learned to a new situation, such as a debate or research project.
Why is Kolb’s learning cycle important for teachers?
Kolb’s learning cycle is important for teachers because it provides a framework for designing effective learning experiences that engage learners and helps them develop critical thinking skills. By understanding the four stages of the learning cycle, teachers can design lessons that include a variety of experiences, encourage reflection and analysis, and provide opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in new situations. This can lead to deeper learning and more meaningful engagement with the subject matter, which can improve student outcomes and success.
How are David Kolb’s Learning Styles used in developing learning and development for an organization?
David Kolb’s Learning Styles and experiential learning can be used in developing learning and development programs for organizations to enhance employee skills and knowledge. Here are some ways in which the Kolb model can be applied:
- Identify individual learning styles: The first step is to assess the learning styles of employees within the organization. This can be done using the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (LSI) or other similar tools. Once learning styles have been identified, training and development programs can be tailored to match individual needs.
- Design experiential learning programs: Kolb’s model emphasizes that learning occurs through experience, so organizations can design experiential learning programs that provide employees with opportunities to practice and apply new skills in real-life situations. This could include role-playing, simulations, case studies, and other interactive activities.
- Incorporate reflection and feedback: The Kolb model also emphasizes the importance of reflection and feedback in the learning process. Organizations can incorporate regular opportunities for employees to reflect on their learning experiences and receive feedback from peers, managers, or trainers.
- Implement a continuous learning culture: Kolb’s model suggests that learning is an ongoing process, and organizations can promote a continuous learning culture by encouraging employees to take ownership of their own learning and development. This could include providing access to online learning resources, mentoring and coaching programs, and other opportunities for self-directed learning.
Here is an example of a sample LSI questionnaire:
Instructions: The following questions are designed to assess your Kolb learning styles test. Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with each statement by circling the appropriate number. There are no right or wrong answers, and the results will help you understand your preferred learning style.
|Statement||Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Somewhat Disagree||Somewhat Agree||Agree||Strongly Agree|
|I learn best by doing things, such as practical tasks or hands-on activities.|
|I often reflect on my experiences and think about what I have learned from them.|
|I enjoy analyzing information and exploring ideas in a systematic way.|
|I like to experiment with new ideas and try out different approaches.|
|I prefer to learn from experts, such as teachers or trainers, who can explain concepts clearly.|
|I often seek feedback from others to improve my performance and understanding.|
|I enjoy exploring new places, trying new things, and meeting new people.|
|I find it helpful to develop theories and concepts to explain new information.|
|I like to work independently and figure things out on my own.|
|I prefer to learn in a structured, organized way with clear objectives and goals.|
Once the Kolb LSI questionnaire is completed, the responses are evaluated and scored to determine an individual’s learning style preferences. The questionnaire consists of several Likert scale questions that assess an individual’s level of agreement or disagreement with statements that reflect each of the four learning modes (Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation).
For example, if an individual strongly agrees with the statement “I learn best by doing things, such as practical tasks or hands-on activities” (question 1), it indicates a preference for the Concrete Experience learning mode. Similarly, if an individual strongly agrees with the statement “I enjoy analyzing information and exploring ideas in a systematic way” (question 3), it indicates a preference for the Abstract Conceptualization learning mode.
Once all the responses are evaluated, the scores for each learning mode are totaled, and the highest score indicates the individual’s dominant learning mode. Based on the results, an individual can then use this information to identify their strengths and weaknesses in learning and develop more effective learning strategies that cater to their preferred learning mode.
It’s important to note that the Kolb LSI questionnaire is a self-assessment tool, and the results may not always be accurate or comprehensive. Therefore, it’s recommended to use the results as a starting point and seek feedback from others to gain a more complete understanding of one’s learning style preferences. Additionally, the questionnaire should be used in conjunction with other learning assessments and strategies to create a more holistic and effective learning experience.
By using David Kolb’s Learning Styles model in developing learning and development programs, organizations can create more effective and engaging training programs that align with individual learning styles and promote a culture of continuous learning. This can lead to increased employee engagement, productivity, and overall organizational success.
Samrat is a Delhi-based MBA from the Indian Institute of Management. He is a Strategy, AI, and Marketing Enthusiast and passionately writes about core and emerging topics in Management studies. Reach out to his LinkedIn for a discussion or follow his Quora Page