Kolb (1984), in introducing the idea of the experiential learning cycle and of learning styles, defines learning as the process whereby "knowledge is created through the transformation of expertise". He suggests that ideas are not fixed but are formed and modified through current and past experiences. His learning cycle consists of four stages; completing each stage is important to improve learning in the next stage :
Active Experimentation (The learner actively uses the theories formed and also tries them in new situations. The latter takes him back to the start of the cycle. )
- Concrete Experience (The learner is encouraged to become involved in new experiences.)
- Reflective Observation (The learner reflect on his experience from different perspective. Enough time and supportive feedback is helpful in this stage.)
- Abstract Conceptualisation (The learner forms ideas and logical theories.)
Of course, not everyone acts in the same way, some prefer considering all possible alternatives whilst others like trying out as much as possible. Hence, Kolb associated four learning styles with his learning cycle: the Converger, who applies ideas in a practical way, the Accommodator, who carries out plans and tasks involving him in new experiences, the Diverger, who has good imagination and ideas, and finally the Assimilator, who creates theoretical models. Kolb also points out that learning styles are not fixed personality traits but relatively stable patterns of behaviour.
Based on Kolb's model Honey and Mumford (1992) developed a similar model with new terms for Kolb's learning preferences (Honey and Mumford terms in brackets):
Active Experimentation (Activist)
- Concrete Experience (Pragmatist)
- Reflective Observation (Reflector)
- Abstract Conceptualisation (Theorist)
According to Honey and Mumford four learning styles can be distinguished: the Activist, the Pragmatist, the Reflector, and the Theorist:
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Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
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