You are on page 1of 23

David Kolb

Experiential Learning Theory

Cheryl DeGraw
Walden University
August 2010


Define Experiential Learning Theory

Review theoretical backgrounds
Discuss four processes of learning
Explain four learning stages
Discuss four learning styles
Apply Experiential Learning theory in education
Review similarities and critique of theory

Experiential Learning Theory

learning is the process whereby knowledge is
created through the transformation of
experience (Kolb, 1984, p. 38)
Integrating new information into existing
Involving the whole person
Transacting between the person and the

Theoretical Backgrounds
Learning grounded in experience

Being active in learning

Developmental Stages - Resulting from interaction
of the person and the environment

Six Propositions of Learning

Learning is a process, not outcome
Learning is relearning
Learners move between reflection, action,
thinking, feeling
Learning is holistic
Learning involves interactions with the
environment and the learner
Learning is constructivist abstract and

Four Processes of Learning

Senses perceiving information

Mind reflecting how it impacts life

Emotions fitting into learners experiences

Muscle performing new ways to act

Four Learning Stages

Concrete Experience
Doing or having an experience

Reflective Observation
Reviewing or reflecting on the experience

Abstract Conceptualization
Concluding or learning from the experience

Active Experimentation
Planning or trying out what you have learned

Which learning stage do you prefer

or learn more effectively from?

Four Learning Styles

Learns through concrete experience
Transforms learning into abstract
Leaders, risk takers, needs a mentor, strength in
doing, likes examples
Teaches students by encouragement, modeling

Learns through concrete experience
Transforms learning by reflective observation
Likes to brainstorm, solve problems,
imaginative, emotional, people person
Teaches through lectures and motivates students
to learn

Learns through abstract conceptualization
Transforms information through active
experimentation by doing
Prefers objects, dislikes group activities, likes
questioning, problem-solver, unemotional
Teaches by questioning and encouraging

Learn through abstract conceptualization
Transform learning through reflective
Likes reading, research, organizing, working
alone, likes class calendar
Teaches students by lecturing, traditional

Which learning style are you?


Kolbs Experiential Learning Cycle

Use of environment/experiences for learning
Constructivist Learning Theory (Vygotsky)
Behaviorists Theory (Skinner)

Learn through social interactions

Social Learning Theory (Bandura)

Affective and cognitive dimensions of learning

Humanist Theory (Freud, Rogers)


Cultural considerations are not included

Little research support
Stages of learning may be sequenced differently
Does not apply in all types of learning situations
Insufficient information on reflection
Doesnt explore nature of knowledge in depth
Smith, (2001).

Experiential Learning Theory
David Kolb video: What is Experiential Learning?
David Kolb power point presentation
David Kolb video: What is Experiential Learning?


Hurst-Wajszczuk, K. (2010). Do they really get it? Using the Kolb LSI to reach every student. Journal of Singing, 66(4), 421427.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). The process of experiential learning. In D. Kolb, Experiential learning: experience as the source of
learning and development (pp. 20-38). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Inc.

Kolb, D. A. & Kolb, A .Y.(2005) Learning styles and learning spaces: enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of
Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 193-212.

Lisko, S. A. & ODell, V. (2010). Integration of Theory and Practice: experiential learning theory and nursing education. Nursing
Education Perspectives, 31(2), 106-108.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., Baumgartner, L.M. Learning in adulthood: a comprehensive guide (3 rd Ed.). San Francisco: CA. Jossey-Bass.

Smith, M. K. (2001). David. A. Kolb on experiential learning. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved August 3, 2010 from