Kolb’s model of Experiential Learning

The theoretical model of Experiential Learning is grounded in the humanistic and constructivist perspective, proposing that we are naturally capable to learn, and that experience plays a critical role in knowledge construction and acquisition. In other words, learning occurs when someone creates knowledge though experiential transformations (Kolb, 1984).

The image below demonstrates the Experiential Learning Cycle by Kolb:

Image: The Experiential Learning Cycle (McLeod, 2013)

Effective learning occurs in four stages:

  1. Concrete Experience: The learner encounters a new experience or engages in a reinterpretation process of an existing experience.
  2. Reflective Observation: The learner reviews and reflects on the new experience and identifies any inconsistencies between experience and understanding.
  3. Abstract Conceptualization: Through the reflective process, the learner creates a new idea/concept or modifies an existing abstract concept – analyzing the concepts and forming conclusions and generalizations.
  4. Active Experimentation: The learner plans and tries out what was learned and is able to apply the new knowledge to other situations – conclusions and generalizations are used to tests hypothesis and thus the learner engages in new experiences.

It is possible for the learner to enter at any of these four stages and follow them through their sequence to acquire new knowledge. What is highlighted is that for effective learning to occur the learner should complete all four stages of the model and no one stage can stand alone as a learning procedure.