‘Key influences on the personal learning processes of individuals’ David Kolb published his learning styles model in 1984 from which he developed his learning style inventory. ‘Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience’ (David A. Kolb 1984). He believed that our individual learning styles emerge due to our genetics, life experiences, and the demands of our current environment. The Experiential Learning Cycle
Kolb's experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner 'touches all the bases': 1. Concrete Experience - (a new experience of situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience). 2. Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding). 3. Abstract Conceptualization (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept). 4. Active Experimentation (the learner applies them to the world around them to see what results).
Kolb's learning theory (1975) sets out four distinct learning styles, which are based on a four-stage learning cycle. Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style. Various factors influence a person's preferred style for example their social environment, their educational experiences or the cognitive structure of the individual. Whatever influences the choice of style, the learning style itself is the product of two separate 'choices' that we make, which Kolb presented as lines of axis, each with 'conflicting' modes at either end, Kolb believed that we cannot perform both variables on a single axis at the same time (think and feel).
Each learning style represents a combination of two preferred styles. The diagram also highlights Kolb's terminology for the four learning styles; diverging, assimilating, and converging, accommodating:
Diverging (feeling and watching - CE/RO)
These people are able to look at things from different perspectives. They are sensitive. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. Kolb called this style 'diverging' because these people perform better in situations that require for example, brainstorming/mind mapping. People with a diverging learning style like to gather information. They tend to be imaginative and emotional people. People with the diverging style prefer to work in groups, to listen with an open mind and to receive personal feedback. Assimilating (watching and thinking - AC/RO)
The Assimilating learning preference is for a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. These people require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organizing it a clear logical format. People with an assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. People with this style are more attracted to logically sound theories than approaches based on practical value. In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through. Converging (doing and thinking - AC/AE)
People with a converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks, and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects. People with a converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems. People with a converging learning style are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. People with a converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to...
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