Experiential Learning - Training and Development

Kolb(1984) has been a leader in advancing the practice of experiential learning. His definition of learning: The process whereby knowledge is created through transformation of experience (38).

ForKolb, learning is not so much the acquisition or transmission of content as the interaction between content and experience, whereby each transforms the other.The educator's job, he says, is not only to transmit or implant new ideas, but also to modify old ones that may get in the way of new ones.

Kolbsuggests that there are four steps in the experiential learning cycle (see Figure below):

Kolbsuggests that there are four steps in the experiential learning cycle

Kolb's experiential learning model.

  1. Concrete experience—full involvement, new here-and-now experiences
  2. Observations and reflections—reflecting on and observing their experiences from many perspectives
  3. Formation of abstract concepts and generalizations—creating concepts that integrate their observations into logically sound theories
  4. Testing implications of concepts in new situations—using these theories to make decisions and solve problems

Kolbgoes on to suggest that these four modes combine to create four distinct learning styles.

Kolb'smodel has made a major contribution to the experiential learning literature by :

  1. providing a theoretical basis for experiential learning research and
  2. providing a practical model for experiential learning practice. The four steps in his model are an invaluable framework for designing learning experiences for adults. Programs and classes can be structured to include all four components,as well as units or lessons. Shown below are examples of learning strategies that may be useful in each step.

Human resource development practitioners, while always valuing experience, are increasingly emphasizing experiential learning as a means to improve performance. Action reflection learning is one technique developed to focus on learner's experiences and integrate experience into the learning process.

learner's experiences and integrate experience into the learning process

Learning Strategies

Learning transfer researchers are also focusing on experiential learning as a means to enhance the transfer of learning into performance and to increase the motivation to learn. Structured on-the-job training has emerged as a core method to capitalize more systematically on the value of experiential learning in organizations and as a tool to develop new employees more effectively through the use of experienced coworkers. Experiential learning approaches have the dual benefit of appealing to the adult learner's experience base, as well as increasing the likelihood of performance change after training.

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