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Kolb's learning cycle of four stages


Kolb's learning cycle is based on four learning styles which are further based on four stages of learning cycle. In his model one can find a technique to recognize every individuals learning style and also can explain in the cycle of experiential learning that applies to every individual. The learning cycle is one of the important principles of Kolb's experiential theory. Kolb's model works at two levels; a four stage cycle and as a four type of learning style.

The four stage cycle of Kolb's experiential learning:

ü Concentrate experience- (CE)

ü Reflective observation- (RO)

ü Abstract conceptualization- (AC)

ü Active experimentation- (AE)

And four type of learning style:

ü Diverging (CE/RO)

ü Assimilating (AC/RO)

ü Converging (AC/AE)

ü Accommodating (CE/AE)

Kolb's experiential learning: this learning style tells us that every individual learns and develops their own learning style according to what suites them best.

ü Concentrate experience- (CE) this means that you learn from your experiences and relating to people. This kind of learning could be sensitive to peoples feeling.

ü Reflective observation- (RO) this learning style deals with observation, watching etc. In this kind of learning one learns by observing others method from every prospective. One tries to understand the others view point.

ü Abstract conceptualization- (AC) this learning style deals with logical examination of facts and understanding it on the basis of a circumstance.

ü Active experimentation- (AE) this learning style is based on one's ability of doing something. Ability to get things done by influencing individuals and then acting over it. This includes risk taking.

Learning styles

Kolb explains that every individual has its own different learning style. Its one's personal choice to a preferred style of learning. The four learning styles improve automatically as we grow-up through our developed stages. The stages identified are:

ü Acquisition- this means where one develops the basic ability to understand or to structure.

ü Specialisation- this is when you go to school, work or maybe personal experiences.

ü Integration- this is experienced in your mid- career or through later life. This is related usually to personal or work related life.

This is on one's choice of style, which is a comparison of two pairs. In the given diagram below you can view the line of axis, intersecting in the middle. This is to show how the two styles are interred linked and are comparable. The east-west axis is called the processing continuum and the north-south axis is called the perception continuum. These styles are combined to Kolb's learning cycle.

Concrete Experience - CE (feeling) / Abstract Conceptualization - AC (thinking)

Active Experimentation - AE (doing) / Reflective Observation - RO (watching)

And then the four type of learning style: matrix view

ü Diverging (CE/RO)

ü Assimilating (AC/RO)

ü Converging (AC/AE)

ü Accommodating (CE/AE)

Diverging (CE/RO) - In this style one stresses over new and creative approach of doing things. These views are concentrated from the perspectives of different situations and you pick on then by observing. This is best used in act ivies such as cooperative groups or brainstorming.

Assimilating (AC/RO) - In this style there is a different kind of observation and thoughts included. In this, one likes to create projects, theories and conduct experiment.

Converging (AC/AE) - In this style practical used ideas and problem solving is in action. For example decision making, problem solving etc. It could be also technical or interpersonal issues.

Accommodating (CE/AE) – in this style you examine and error check yourself rather than just thinking over it. In this way you are quick in adapting to changes and try to solve the problem in a learning method. People adapting this kind of learning style are not very difficult with new people.

How you will adjust and develop your own learning style?


Learning Styles Questionnaire: Just tick the appropriate white box if it is true.






I find it easy to meet new people and make new friends


I am cautious and thoughtful


I get bored easily

I am a practical, "hands on" kind of person


I like to try things out for myself

My friends consider me to be a good listener


I have clear ideas about the best way to do things

I enjoy being the centre of attention

I am a bit of a daydreamer


I keep a list of things to do

I like to experiment to find the best way to do things


I prefer to think things out logically


I like to concentrate on one thing at a time

People sometimes think of me as shy and quiet


I am a bit of a perfectionist

I am enthusiastic about life


I would rather "get on with the job" than keep talking about it

I often notice things that other people miss


I act first then think about the consequences later

I like to have everything in its "proper place"


I ask lots of questions

I like to think things through before getting involved


I enjoy trying out new things


I like the challenge of having a problem to solve









Total number of ‘ticks'





I have got the highest number of ticks in the reflector style, this type of learning style implies to observation. One can understand best by observing others. Such kinds of people try to learn from their surroundings. And not to forget the other learning styles are also been used in a superior or minor extend.


Business, [Online],Available from URL: , [Assessed 3rd December 2009].

Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Model, [Online], Available from URL:, [Assessed 3rd December 2009].

RAPIDBI, 2008, Learning Styles – questionnaires and instruments, [Online], Available from URL:, [Assessed 3rd December 2009].

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