Kolb’s Learning Cycle applies is often used by educators teaching on a college campus and distance learning settings.
David A. Kolb, with co-creator Roger Fry, developed a cyclical model consisting of four learning modes to include concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. It designates learners into one of four learning styles: accommodative, assimilative, divergent and convergent thinkers. This cycle pertains to those in higher education as instructors and facilitators both on campus and in distance-learning settings as well as others involved in adult education.
Accommodative learners are those who are interactive and hands-on in nature. They often prefer acting on instinct using other people’s analysis and interpretation and are often found working in team settings. These learners use trial-and-error methods of accomplishing tasks as opposed to fact-finding, although they are organized. Instructors facilitating students in teacher education programs may benefit from an accommodative style.
Those subjected to an assimilative learning style combine the modes of abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. Assimilative thinkers use abstract thinking and deductive reasoning as opposed to social interaction. They are logical and require extensive explanation in theories instead of practical methods. Facilitators who are assimilative in nature are more apt to be organized and are often mathematicians and scientists relying on valid findings.
Divergent learning styles combine concrete experience and reflective observation. These learners are idea-centered and very sensitive to others. They prefer to look at theories from various perspectives and are open-minded, caring and tend to achieve tasks in group settings. Information gatherers, those using brainstorming tactics and emotional learners are often referred to as divergent thinkers. Psychologists may be categorized in the divergent learners sector of Kolb’s theory.
Convergent learners are technical in their thinking and use their ideas for practical ends. They are specialists and use decision-making skills to solve issues. Convergent thinkers work with experiments and follow directions and steps in resolving problems. They are adept in emotion control and tend to shy away from interpersonal connections. An example of a convergent learning style may be that employed by an auto mechanic.