Learning style

by Natalia Espinoza

June 7, 2021

David Kolb is an American educational theorist and psychologist. He is well known for his learning style model known as experiential learning theory. Published in 1984 his theory operates on two levels: a four stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles. His theory mainly focuses on the learner’s internal cognitive processes.


According to Kolb, experiential learning is the process of obtaining and transforming experiences that result in new knowledge. The learner is in touch with the realities being studied in contrast with the learner who only reads about, hears about, talks about, or writes about but never comes into contact with as part of the learning process. Kolb’s experiential learning style theory is based on a four-stage learning cycle, in which the learner experiences each step as they gain new or modify existing information. These four are:


  1. Concrete Experience (feeling) – a new experience/situation is introduced or a reinterpretation of an existing experience.
  2. Reflective Observation (watching) – reviewing/reflecting the experience.
  3. Abstract Conceptualization (thinking) – begins to form new ideas or modifies existing ideas based on reflections from the previous stage.
  4. Active Experimentation (doing) – applies their ideas to their surroundings resulting in new experiences.


Kolb views learning as an integrated process. Each stage supports and influences the next. The learner can enter the cycle at any stage with a logical sequence. Effective learning can only occur when the individual can carry out all four stages of the model, consequently, no stage of the cycle will be effective on its own.


Kolb’s learning styles are based on his four-stage learning cycle. To determine one’s preferred style is based on two variables: how one approaches a task and our emotional response to it. When perceiving the information, we fall into the category of concrete experience or abstract conceptualization. As we process the information we do so as either active experimentation or reflective observation. Our learning style results from a combination of two preferences in each of these categories. Here are the four Kolb learning styles:


  1. Diverging (feeling & watching) – prefer to watch rather than do. They have broad interests in different cultures, open minded in receiving feedback and prefer to work in groups. Tend to have a strong imagination, strong in the arts, as well as emotional. Characteristics are concrete experience and reflective observation.
  2. Assimilating (watching & thinking) – appreciate good clear information. They are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. They enjoy exploring analytical models, readings and lectures. Characteristics include abstract conceptualization and reflective observation.
  3. Converging (doing & thinking) – Apply their learning to practical issues. They are attracted to technical tasks and experimenting with new ideas rather than social or interpersonal issues. Characteristics tend to be abstract conceptualization.
  4. Accommodating (doing & feeling) – enjoy doing things practically, “hands on” and rely on intuition rather than logic. Attracted to new challenges and experiences. Characteristics usually are concrete experience and active experimentation.


There are many advantages to Kolb’s model. The model provides a blend of traditional teaching, including hands-on learning and each stage includes a different preferred learning style, ensuring all learning styles are used as you go through the model. There are a few disadvantages however, accommodating a range of learning techniques in a group may prove difficult for trainers as well as, it’s not always obvious applying the model to the real world. An example of applying this model to the real world is changing bad habits. Take tardiness, come to work late (concrete experience), look at the reason for arriving late (reflective observation), think about the good and bad impacts on yourself for arriving late (abstract conceptualization, analyze how you can arrive at your destination without being tardy and do practical ways of arriving without being late (active experimentation).


With all this Kolb’s experiential learning theory helps trainers develop the most appropriate learning methods for target learners and helps them focus on activities that enable learners to go through the four stages of the learning cycle.


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Myths and Facts

by Natalia Espinoza

June 4, 2021

One of the beautiful things of being a human is that we are all unique in our own ways, the same goes for how we process new information and acquire knowledge. Misconceptions about learning styles, myths about how our brain functions and design of our learning environments are embedded in corporate training programs and could be sabotaging their effectiveness. As companies increasingly invest money in developing their employees, they can do better if they design their training programs based on accurate and up-to-date research and assumptions.


Learning style is the way an individual concentrates on their methods of processing and obtaining new knowledge or experiences. To determine one’s learning style is based on a complex mix of strengths and in addition, their cognitive, emotional, and environmental upbringing. It’s important for instructors to understand differences in individuals’ learning style so they can implement the best practices into their training.


The idea of different learning styles became popularized in the 1970s. Learning styles refer to a range of competing and contested theories that aim to account for differences in individuals' learning. There are many proposed theories that claim humans can be classified according to their style of learning, however, they are contradicting and all differ in how these styles should be defined, evaluated and applied. It’s an attractive thought. Well, perhaps people like to identify themselves and others by a certain “type”. Creating such labels may help classify these differences and offer a quick way of understanding one another, as well as, make you gain knowledge and skills easier. Who wouldn’t want to make learning easy! But before identifying someone’s learning style, we need to dive deeper to find out if the idea of “individual learning style” is real and applicable in learning process or it is just a myth.


Although, it’s appealing to want to fit into a “type”, but here we should be careful, as these labels can limit and create obstacles in one’s learning. There have been three common myths learning preferences;


  • #1 There is no specific individual learning style.Recent studies show no evidence that individuals have a specific learning style (e.g. visual, auditory, writing/reading, or kinesthetic). Learning professionals should instead focus on a mix of various learning methods and styles based on learning goals and expected outcome.


  • #2 People use both sides of their brain to carry out most tasks. The well-known theory that learners are either left brained/analytical or right brained/creative is a false statement. The two hemispheres of the brain are interconnected and communicate together. This notion has led to the misconception that each one of us has a strictly preferred learning style and channel. Recent studies have flatly disproved this idea. During learning process when learners engage all their senses in a variety of ways, it can help them to remember and retain new content easier.


  • #3 Environments rich in stimuli can distract learners and disengage them from learning. While some stimulation is good, too much stimuli can distract learners and make the learning process difficult. Sometimes they cannot focus on the central idea of the learning experience.


Despite lack of evidence there is something valuable in knowing your learning style and that is metacognition: thinking about thinking. Memory recognition and self-regulation in practice can maximize one’s potential to think, learn and evaluate solutions. Analyzing our thinking can help strategize the best learning plan for ourselves. It will support us by becoming more organized, knowing to use prior knowledge as a structure when learning new material and utilize the best learning modality for different tasks.


Want to discover different existing learning styles? Stay tuned! The next upcoming weeks we will be looking into six most widely used and influential learning models and theories which can be definitely useful for your lifelong learning journey.


Why Do We Learn?

by Gayane Ghumashyan

June 1, 2021

Lifelong learning is essential to our existence and an indispensable necessity for every career and organization. Any organization that wants to grow and succeed needs to invest in its employees.


The study of human learning continues to develop and expand. Especially noteworthy is how topics such as motivation, technology, and self-regulation are increasingly being addressed by researchers and practitioners. Learning involves acquiring and modifying knowledge, skills, strategies, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. People learn cognitive, linguistic, motor, and social skills, and these can take many forms.

This blog is about how human learning occurs, which factors influence it, and how learning principles apply in various educational contexts. We have gained much knowledge about learning from animal research. But human learning is fundamentally different from animal learning because human learning is more complex, elaborate, rapid, and typically involves language.

People agree that learning is important, but they hold different views on the causes, processes, and consequences of learning. There is no one definition of learning that is universally accepted by theorists, researchers, and practitioners. Although people disagree about the precise nature of learning, the following is a general definition:

Learning is an enduring change in behavior, or in the capacity to behave in a given fashion, which results from practice or other forms of experience.

Let us explore three criteria for learning:

  • One criterion is that learning involves change—in behavior or in the capacity for behavior. People learn when they become capable of doing something differently. At the same time, we must remember that learning is inferential. We do not observe learning directly but rather its products or outcomes. Learning is assessed based on what people say, write, and do. But we also add that learning involves a changed capacity to behave in a given fashion because it is not uncommon for people to learn skills, knowledge, beliefs, or behaviors without demonstrating them at the time learning occurs.


  • A second criterion is that learning endures over time. Learning may not last forever because forgetting occurs. It is debatable how long changes must last to be classified as learned, but most people agree that changes of brief duration (e.g., a few seconds) do not qualify as learning.


  • A third criterion is that learning occurs through experience (e.g., practice, observation of others). This criterion excludes behavioral changes that are primarily determined by heredity, such as maturational changes in children (e.g., crawling, standing). Nonetheless, the distinction between maturation and learning often is not clear-cut. People may be genetically predisposed to act in given ways, but the actual development of the particular behaviors depends on the environment.

For more information on learning, read our blog articles and explore the amazing world of learning and growing. See you!