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Time to complete this module

  • 20-25 minutes

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module you will be able to

  • Describe all 4 steps of Kolb’s learning cycle
  • Identify a personal learning experience from Day 1 of your ISW that involved a specific stage(s) of Kolb's cycle
  • Suggest a teaching technique for each of the 4 stages, for your own discipline


Watch this short video. As as you watch, consider the following points:

  • Have you ever thought about how learning happens? How do you learn?
  • How might the way an instructor learns enhance/diminish student's learning?


Reflect on the activities from Day 1 of our ISW. Consider both the activities you did in the large group and those you did in your small group (particularly during the mini-lessons).

  • Describe one activity that was most helpful in enhancing your learning
  • What stage (or stages) of Kolb's cycle did that activity involve?

Consider each of the 4 stages of Kolb's learning cycle.

  • Can you suggest a teaching technique, applicable in your own discipline, that helps student go through that stage? Please name or briefly describe an example for each stage.

Please use the Comments box below to provide your responses to the above 3 questions.

Go Further

David Kolb's model

The David A. Kolb styles model is based on the Experiential Learning Theory, as explained in his book Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (1984).[1] The ELT model outlines two related approaches toward grasping experience: Concrete Experience and Abstract Conceptualization, as well as two related approaches toward transforming experience: Reflective Observation and Active Experimentation. According to Kolb’s model, the ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. In order for learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated. As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach. The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual’s preferred approaches. These learning styles are as follows:

  1. Converger;
  2. Diverger;
  3. Assimilator;
  4. Accommodator;.[2]

Convergers are characterized by abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. They are good at making practical applications of ideas and using deductive reasoning to solve problems.[2]

Divergers tend toward concrete experience and reflective observation. They are imaginative and are good at coming up with ideas and seeing things from different perspectives.[2]

Assimilators are characterized by abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. They are capable of creating theoretical models by means of inductive reasoning.[2]

Accommodators use concrete experience and active experimentation. They are good at actively engaging with the world and actually doing things instead of merely reading about and studying them.[2]


Link to Complete Bibliography
For a complete bibliography, please visit the CTLT's shared folder on Refworks.

Having problems? Visit the RefWorks information guide.

  • Alice Y. Kolb, & David A. Kolb. (2010). Learning to play, playing to learn. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 23(1), 26-50.Permalink.svg Permalink
  • Ambrose, S. A. (2010). How learning works : Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Ubc-elink.png
  • Bransford, J., & ebrary, I. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.Ubc-elink.png
  • Cedar Riener, & Daniel Willingham. (2010). THE MYTH OF LEARNING STYLES. Change, 42(5), 32.Ubc-elink.png
  • David G Ebeling. (2001). Teaching to all learning styles. The Education Digest, 66(7), 41.Ubc-elink.png
  • Gardner, H., & Education Research Complete. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York: BasicBooks.Permalink.svg Permalink
  • Heffler, B. (2001). Individual learning style and the learning style inventory. EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 27(3), 307-316.
  • Joy, S., & Kolb, D. A. (2008). Are there cultural differences in learning style? INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTERCULTURAL RELATIONS, 33(1), 69-85.
  • Kolb, D. A., & Kolb, A. Y. (2009). The learning way: Meta-cognitive aspects of experiential learning. Simulation & Gaming, 40(3), 297-327.
  • Latham, A. (1997). Responding to cultural learning styles. EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP, 54(7), 88-89.
  • Loo, R. (2004). Kolb's learning styles and learning preferences: Is there a linkage? Educational Psychology, 24(1), 99-108.Ubc-elink.png
  • Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105.
  • Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective. Boston: Pearson.
  • Sternberg, R. J., & Zhang, L. (2001). Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.
  • Watkins, C., & ebrary, I. (2000). Learning about learning: Resources for supporting effective learning. London: Routledge Falmer.

Online Resources

  • Howard Gardner, "Multiple intelligences: The First 25 Years"


  1. Kolb, David (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Smith, M. K. (2001). David A. Kolb on experiential learning. Retrieved October 17, 2008, from:

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