Experiential learning theory is based on the works of the prodominant scientists of the 20th century, such as Dewey who uses experience as base of learning, Lewin who emphasizes the importance of individual effectiveness in the learning process, and Piaget who does not see intelligence only as an innate trait but qualifies it as an end result of the interaction between people and the environment.
Experiential Learning is a holistic approach which covers all four (feeling, reflecting, thinking, acting) dimensions of learning.
David A. KOLB, founder of experiential learning theory, defines learning as a process in which “experience is transformed into knowledge”.
Experiential Learning Theory is a dynamic view of learning based on a learning cycle driven by the resolution of the dual dialectics of action/reflection and experience/abstraction. Learning is defined as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience.” . Grasping experience refers to the process of taking in information, and transforming experience is how individuals interpret and act on that information.
The Experiential Learning Theory Model portrays two dialectically related modes of grasping experience:
Concrete Experience and Abstract Conceptualization
Two dialectically related modes of transforming experience:
Reflective Observation and Active Experimentation
Learning arises from the resolution of creative tension among these four learning modes. This process is portrayed as an idealized learning cycle where the learner “touches all the bases”—experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting—in a recursive process that is sensitive to the learning situation and what is being learned. Immediate or concrete experiences are the basis for observations and reflections. These reflections are assimilated and distilled into abstract concepts from which new implications for action can be drawn. These implications can be actively tested and serve as guides in creating new experiences.
David Kolb and Alice Kolb built the experiential learning theory on the valuable work of the following scientists.
Kolb based his theory on six propositions:
Alice Kolb is the President of Experience Based Learning Systems (EBLS) a research and development organization devoted to research and application of experiential learning in organizations worldwide. EBLS has developed many experiential exercises and self-assessment instruments including the latest Kolb Learning Style Inventory 4.0. The EBLS program of research on Experiential Learning Theory continues in collaboration with an international network of researchers, practitioners and learning partners.
As President of EBLS she facilitates research and practice initiatives of the international network. She was a co-developer of the Kolb Learning Style Inventory 4.0 and was the leader of the team that developed the Kolb Educator Role Profile, an inventory designed to help educators apply experiential learning principles in their work.
She was born and raised in Brazil and went to Japan where she received her BA in Japanese Studies from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and MA and Doctorate in Human Resources Management from Hitotsubashi University. She received a MS in Human Resource Management from Cleveland State University and her Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Organizational Behavior where she was an Adjunct Professor in the Weatherhead School of Management. She is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and English.
Her research focus on creating learning spaces conducive to deep learning led to her paper “Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in higher education” published in Academy of Management Learning and Education and “Learning to play, playing to learn: A case study of a ludic learning space,” published in the Journal of Organizational Change Management. She recently published a book titled Becoming an Experiential Educator: Principles and Practices of Experiential Learning with David Kolb. She and David received the 2008 “Educational Pioneers of the Year Award” from the National Society for Experiential Education.
David A. Kolb is the Chairman of Experience Based Learning Systems (EBLS), an organization that he founded in 1981 to advance research and practice on experiential learning. EBLS has developed many experiential exercises and self-assessment instruments including the latest Kolb Learning Style Inventory 4.0 and the Kolb Educator Role Profile, an inventory designed to help educators apply experiential learning principles in their work. The EBLS program of research on Experiential Learning Theory continues with an international network of researchers, practitioners and learning partners.
He received his BA in psychology, philosophy and religion at Knox College and his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Harvard University. He was a professor of organizational behavior and management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University where he is currently Emeritus Professor of Organizational Behavior.
He is best known for his research on experiential learning and learning styles described in the new Second Edition of Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Other books include—The Experiential Educator: Principles and Practices of Experiential Learning, How You Learn Is How You Live: Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform Your Life, Conversational Learning: An Experiential Approach to Knowledge Creation, Innovation in Professional Education: Steps on a Journey from Teaching to Learning, and Organizational Behavior: An Experiential Approach. In addition he has authored many journal articles and book chapters on experiential learning available at www.learningfromexperience.com David has received several research awards and four honorary degrees recognizing his contributions to experiential learning in higher education.