Posted in Miscellaneous

David Kolb’s Learning Styles

Recently I learned about David Kolb’s learning theory and learning styles and found them interesting and helpful. He separates learners into four distinct categories based on their approach and processes of learning. These four categories come from his 4-step cycle of learning:

  1. Concrete Experience
  2. Reflective Observation
  3. Abstract Conceptualization
  4. Active Experimentation

Kolb argues that each learner prefers some “steps” of learning over the others. He combines these into four learning styles:

  • Diverging (CE/RO)
  • Assimilating (AC/RO)
  • Converging (AC/AE)
  • Accommodating (CE/AE)

These styles are separated by being placed along two continuums. The first is the Perception Continuum, or how we think about things. The two ends of this spectrum are feeling (concrete experience) and thinking (abstract conceptualization). The second is the Processing Continuum, which is how we do things. The two ends of this spectrum are doing (active experimentation) and watching (reflective observation). The combination of answers from these two spectrums defines one’s learning style.

  • Diverging learners like experience and observation. They are good at perspective taking and they enjoy working with people and having group work. They are good at coming up with new ideas and usually do well in the arts.
  • Assimilating learners like abstract thinking and observation. They are logical, like explanations, and prefer ideas over group work. They tend to enjoy information and science-related topics.
  • Converging learners like abstract conceptualization and experimentation. They are practical, technical, and are good at problem solving. They excel in specialist and technology areas.
  • Accommodating learners like experience and experimentation.  They are hands-on, use tuition, like to implement plans, and enjoy group work. They often get information from others to make their own analysis and they do well in areas requiring initiative and implementation. This is a very prevalent learning style.

I think this theory is very interesting and can help teachers better understand their students. The theory does not explain everything but it can help give context and understanding as we try to help different types of learners and personalities. It can be both difficult and rewarding to work with students of all types, but keeping these ideas in mind can help us develop a teaching style that can relate to all types of learners.

For more detailed information on David Kolb’s learning styles, see here.


One thought on “David Kolb’s Learning Styles

  1. Chantelle,

    Thank you for posting this. I have also learned about Kolb’s work. I think it’s a good example of a larger principle. Anyone who works helping other people should be aware of different systems of personal differences. That goes for learning style, personality traits, communication styles and much more.

    When we learn these things not only can we help others more effectively, but it helps people come to appreciate each other.

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