David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984 from which he developed his experiential learning cycle. Kolb explains that individual people naturally prefer a certain learning style in which we process information, and use it to make sense of previous experiences. However, Kolb believes that we do not develop these instinctive preferences until we reach adolescence and early adulthood. “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984). Kolb’s experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner must pass every stage for it to be effective:
1. Concrete Experience - This is when the individual, team or organisation actively carry out or participate in an action. In Kolb’s view, it is impossible for one to learn by watching or listening; they must actually do the activity in order to learn efficiently.
2. Reflective Observation- This is the stage in which one must take a step back from ‘doing’, and take time to review what they have learned and gained from the concrete experience.
3. Abstract Conceptualization- This is the stage in which one makes sense of what has happened, and thoughts are organised in a methodical order that helps to make sense of the experience.
4. Active Experimentation- This is when the learner considers how they are going to put what they have learnt from the concrete experience into practice. Planning enables taking the new understanding and translating it into predictions as to what will happen in the future.
Kolb’s learning theory influences my learning as it is useful when reflecting on an experience to make generalisations and make predictions of what will happen in future experiences. I am able to make a link between the theory and action by planning, acting out, reflecting and relating back to the theory. After learning about Kolb’s theory, I realised that I use his theory in everyday situations; this helps me to learn from my previous experiences, including my mistakes, so I am able to perform to a higher standard in the future.
Honey and Mumford’s learning styles theory:
Peter Honey and Alan Mumford (1982) adapted Kolb’s learning styles to develop their own model of learning styles. They reviewed the ways in which employees learned, and identified four distinct preferences: Activist, Theorist, Pragmatist and Reflector. Each learning style preference shows characteristics that identify the preferred situations in which one is able to learn, and the situations that are not so favourable. Honey and Mumford believe that these are learning approaches that different individuals naturally prefer. They recommend that in order to make the most out of one’s learning, the learner should be able to understand their individual learning style, and seek out opportunities to make use of it.
Activist- Activists prefer to learn by doing, and like physically getting involved in activities. They like to dominate and are able to come up with new ideas quickly. However, they do not like to learn on their