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David Kolb. The Experiential Learning Theory. The Theorist: David Kolb. An American educational theorist born in 1939 Kolb earned his BA from Knox College in 1961 and his MA and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1964 and 1967 respectively, in social psychology

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David kolb

David Kolb

The Experiential Learning Theory


The theorist david kolb

The Theorist: David Kolb

  • An American educational theorist born in 1939

  • Kolb earned his BA from Knox College in 1961 and his MA and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1964 and 1967 respectively, in social psychology

  • He is mainly credited for his experiential learning model (ELM) and his learning style inventory (LSI)


Experiential learning model

Experiential Learning Model

  • Four stages

    • Concrete Experience

    • Reflective Observation

    • Abstract Conceptualization

    • Active Experimentation


Learning style inventory

Learning Style Inventory

  • Uses the ELT “stages” as “styles”

  • Combines one’s top two styles to create 4 unique styles:

    • Diverging (CE/RO)

    • Assimilating (AC/RO)

    • Converging (AC/AE)

    • Accommodating (CE/AE)


Let s try it

Let’s Try it!

  • Although one can start with any of the 4 stages, the experiential learning cycle usually starts with an experience

  • On the next slide we will start an experiment that will serve as the Concrete Experience

  • After the experiment is over we will apply it to the other 3 stages of Kolb’s ELT


The rising water experiment

The Rising Water Experiment

  • Purpose: To observe what happens when one lights a candle that is sitting in about one centimeter of water and extinguishes it with a test tube

  • Materials: Petri dish, candle, matches, colored water, test tube


The rising water experiment cont

The Rising Water Experiment, cont.

  • Directions

    • Light the candle and drip a few drops of wax in the center of the Petri dish

    • Quickly stand the candle up on the hot wax and release

    • Pour about one centimeter of water into the dish

    • Extinguish the candle with the test tube (be sure to quickly lower the tube over the candle and set it on the base of the dish all in one motion)

    • Write down as many observations as you can


The rising water experiment video

The Rising Water Experiment Video

  • The video will illustrate how technology can be used to increase our powers of observation

  • During the video, take careful note to see if you observe anything different from when you performed the experiment yourself…


Elt and the rising water experiment

ELT and the Rising Water Experiment

  • Now, let’s apply Kolb’s ELT to our experiment:

    • Concrete Experience

    • Reflective Observation

    • Abstract Conceptualization

    • Active Experimentation


How was your experience

How was your experience?

  • Questions?

  • Comments?


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