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Kolb’s Learning Theory

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Kolb’s learning theory refers to a holistic perspective, which combines perception, experience, behaviors, and cognition. Martin (2006) defines learning as the process of creating knowledge by transforming experience. The components of Kolb learning theory involve observations and reflections, concrete experience, application in new situations, and formation of generalizations. These four components form the learning cycle of Kolb, which shows how experience undergoes transformation to guide people on active experimentation as well as how to choose new experiences (Swanson & Holton, 2001). This discussion will consider observations and reflections, concrete experience, application in new situations, and formation of generalizations as the four components of Kolb’s learning theory.

Concrete experience (CE) is a stage of Kolb’s learning cycle in which the learner experiences activities such as field work or lab session in an active manner (Martin, 2006). Direct experimental data are inevitable for the concrete experience. The experimental data enable people to solve various problems that they face. This stage provides a basis for reflective observations. Observations and reflections refer to the stage of learning in which learners reflect back on their earlier experiences in a conscious manner. Under this stage of learning, a person takes what he or she has concluded and watch to check if it is functional. Observations and reflections undergo assimilation and distillation into abstract conceptions, which produce new deductions for actions to create new experiences (Martin, 2006).

Formation of generalization component refers to a stage of learning in which learners attempt to conceptualize a model or theory of what they observe (Martin, 2006). In this stage, people look at things as ideas and concepts after processing, which convert raw details into abstract concepts. Internal processing leads to the creation of meaning. The final component of Kolb’s learning cycle is the application in new situations. In this component, learners are making attempts in planning to test models or theories or planning for forthcoming experiences (Martin, 2006). Under this stage of learning, an individual takes what he or she has concluded and do an experiment on it to check if it is functional.

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