Kolb’s Cycle

The Experiential Learning Cycle

In the mid 70’s David Kolb formalised a highly effective way of thinking about how we learn from experience. His ideas came from the work of Kurt Lewin, a Gestalt Psychologist based in Berlin in the early Twentieth Century. Kolb described the process of learning as a cycle with four stages:

I Planning and preparing

Identifying a gap between our present state and our desired state represents a need.
We plan some activity and identify the resources required to meet that need.
We specify the criteria and evidence that will let us know it is being met.Kolb called this stage Active Experimentation

 II. Action

We engage in the activity.Kolb called this stage Concrete Experience

III. Reflection

We reflect on that experience and gather informationKolb called this stage Reflective Observation

IV. Concluding

We begin to generalise and internalise what happened on that experience.
We compare our present state and desired state using the evidential criteria, and use these conclusions to carry on to a further stage of preparing and planning.Kolb called this stage Abstract Conceptualisation

There are learning cycles within learning cycles, like a nest of Russian dolls.

Source: Scaling the Heights

Original reference:

Kolb, D (1984) Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall

The Experiential Learning Cycle

Kolb general graphic