The Experiential Learning Cycle


We learn in different ways, and for getting full effect in performance learning – action learning is effective.

Kolb’s theory explains the relevance of a learner’s internal cognitive process.  Kolb’s experiential learning theory works on two levels: a four-stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles.

Kolb’s experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner ‘touches all the bases:

  • Concrete Experience (feelings)
  • Reflective Observation (watching)
  • Abstract Conceptualization (thinking)
  • Active Experimentation (doing)

Effective learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages: 1. Having a concrete experience followed by 2. Observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to 3. The formation of abstract concepts and generalizations, which are then 4. Used to test hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new experiences.

It is possible to enter the cycle at any stage and follow it through its logical sequence. However, effective learning only occurs when a learner is able to execute all four stages of the model. Therefore, no one stage of the cycle is an effective as a learning procedure on its own.


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