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David .A. Kolb developed his famous model from four elements,the first one is Concrete experience, second one is Observation, the third one is Reflection and the fourth one is forming abstract concepts and testing in new solutions. He created this with the help of Roger Fry. He used these elements in the experiential learning cycle which involves concrete experiences which is followed by the experiences and observations and then followed by abstract concepts and testing in new situations.
Concrete Experience means to involve a learner into new experiences For example Role plays,Field experiences and Interviews. Includes sensitivity to others feelings. It also means that a person learns through day to day experiences.
Reflective observation means the learner watches others and learned or develop observations about his own experiences, the learner observes from different prespectives before arriving at a judgement For Example Small group sessions.
Abstract conceptualization means to create theories to explain about his own observations or gaining knowledge through theories and applying them in situations
Active experimentation means to use theories to make decisions and solve his problems. To make these four phases easier an example is below
Ride a bicycle
Reflective observation - Thinking of riding the bike and then watch another person ride, so you can watch and learn. Abstract conceptualization - Taking a book about biking and learn the whole biking concepts to learn how to ride a bike. Concrete experience - is when you receive tips and techniques for riding a bike from an expert and then use those tips and techniques to ride a bike. Active experimentation - is when a learner just gets on a bike and a gives it a try.Another example to make the phases a little more clearer.
Active experimentation - is when you have no idea about it and you just go and try to do it. Reflective observation - is when you are thinking about what you just performed. Abstract conceptualization - is when you first read the instructions and get a clearer idea about software programming and then trying to perform the task. Concrete experience - Is when you use the Help feature in the menu bar to get an idea about the task and to get tips from the help feature.
Concrete Experience-is when a player plays a training game and tries to score goals.
Reflective Observation-Player observes his own performance- especially how many attempts on goal.
Abstract Conceptualization-Player has a chat with the coach about his shooting techniques and gets a few tips on shooting.
Active Experimentation-Player uses the Tips and techniques provided by the coach and also use the experience gained from the training game to plan for the next match.
From the above four, Kolb's created four different learning styles, these are Diverger, Assimilator, Converger, and Accommodator. Kolb's thought that a persons learning styles would differ overtime but really a person will have more liking to just one learning style.
Diverging (feeling and watching - CE/RO)Â will take experiences and assess them and will change them into multiple possibilities of actually what it means. They enjoy working as a team and works well in calm situations and hates conflicts. These people are mostly influenced by others and likes to get proper feed backs. They are more likely to learn from logical instructions or from hands one exploration which will have conversations which leads to discoveries. Likes to think about the activity/concept and observe other peoples' takes on the matter
Assimilating (watching and thinking - AC/RO)Â - these people learning learning preference is for a logical approach. These people do not want pratical explanations they like a good clear explanations. These learners are more focused on ideas and concepts than on people.these learners prefers lectures videos, models etc.
Converging (doing and thinking - AC/AE)Â - these peoople will find soolutions for practical problems.they always prefers technical and practical tasks and are less concerned for people. These people are the best at finding solutions for ideas and theories. These learners loves to experiment with new ideas and to with practical applications.
Accommodating (doing and feeling - CE/AE) are the ones who likes to do before thinking. Tends to tolerate risks more and they do not like routine works. They like pratical learning more than the theories and the lectures. They like direct interaction with the situation and learn more alone than others helping them out.
Kolb and Robert Fry has said that learning cycles can start at any one point and it should be approached as a continuous spiral.
According to Kolb "learning is a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming it".(Kolb,1984)
Weakness and Strenghts
As a coin every learning style has two sides.
Each learning style has its strong and weak points. To balance different needs of their students, teachers should provide learning objectives in many different ways and in that way ensure that all learning styles are covered. This can be achieved through group learning and conversational learning.
Group learning is particularly successful if groups consist of different learning styles. Researches found that heterogeneous groups accommodating different learning styles learn significantly more than homogenous group consisting of whatever learning style (see Sandmire above). Researches also showed that teams formed randomly with the aim to include different types of learners preformed better than self-selected studies. Having that in mind teachers can form the learning groups by random allocation of students into the groups. In that way teachers can presume that groups consist of all four types and prepare their teaching units including different teaching strategies.
Although Kolb's theory is widely accepted and has its use for improving performances especially in higher education, there are a number of problems with the model (Greenway, R. 2004).
David Kolb is putting forward a particular learning style model. The problem here is that the experiential learning model does not apply to all situations. Another problem is that Kolb's theory provides only limited number of factors that influence learning. It doesn't explain psychodynamic, social, and institutional aspects of learning.
It is important to have in mind that people differ in their learning type over time and over situations. Different approaches may be needed even to same person in different situations.
The major critique to the Learning Style Inventory as a measurement of learning styles is lack of its objectivity, reliability and validity. Other complains are connected to its generalisablility as it has been used within a fairly limited range of cultures. For its broader use further studies are needed.