The Kolb model on the 4 learning styles

The ability of people to take in information around them through observation, study, and experience is known as learning. But this ability to learn is not the same for everyone.

The learning style model created by David Kolb distinguishes four types of learning according to how people prefer to process information from their environment. Below we describe this model and explain its possible limitations.

    Features of the Kolb model

    The American psychologist David A. Kolb designed in 1984 a model on learning styles in which it was theorized that there are three major agents which modulate the learning styles of each one. These three agents are genetics, life experiences and the demands of our environment.

    Over time, this model has become one of the most widely recognized assumptions about learning and one of the most widely used today.

    According to the learning style model developed by Kolb, when a person wants to learn something they have to process and work on the information they collect. For this information processing to be carried out optimally, four phases must be completed different. They are as follows.

    1. Specific experience (CE)

    Immediate and specific experiences must take place that give rise to an observation.

    2. Reflective observation (OR)

    The person reflects on what they are observing and establishes a series of general assumptions on the information received can mean.

    3. Abstract Conceptualization (AC)

    Then, as a result of these assumptions, abstract concepts are formed and generalizations.

    4. Active experimentation (EA)

    Finally, the person experience or practice these concepts in other contexts or situations.

    When the person has completed all of these steps in the process, the sequence is restarted to continue to gain more knowledge and information.

      Types of students

      The reality is that people tend to specialize in one or two of the four phases that we have seen. Since Kolb warned of this fact, developed four typologies of students according to the way in which they prefer to work with information.

      These students are classified into:

      • active students the divergent.
      • thoughtful students or assimilators.
      • theoretical students or converge.
      • pragmatic students the ushers.

      These categories, which will be explained one by one in the next point, refer to the type of learning in which a person specializes. Depending on the category in which it is found, it will be easier or more difficult for it to assimilate the information, it will depend on how it is presented to him and how it is worked on in class.

      Considering these four phases and the concept of specialization, educators should present information on each of the topics to ensure that they cover all phases of the Kolb model. This will facilitate the learning of each student regardless of the phase in which they are and, in addition, the phases in which they are less specialized will be reinforced.

      The current education system generally does not take this into account too much, Give more value and prioritize the conceptualization and theorizing phase. This is particularly the case at secondary and higher education levels, where more theoretical students are favored over more pragmatic students; with the exception of some specific topics.

        The learning style according to Kolb

        As described above, Kolb classifies learning styles based on student preferences when handling and assimilating the information presented to them.

        1. Active or divergent students

        The distinguishing characteristics of active or divergent students include full and unbiased involvement and commitment. These people need to make the most of the moment and generally engage in events.

        They are enthusiastic about any kind of innovative activity to which they are fully delivered. However, they tend to get bored easily, so the moment they lose interest in one, they’ll start with another.

        Another defining point of these people is that they tend to act before they think about the consequences.

        They learn best when

        • When the activity poses a challenge to them.
        • They offer short and concise activities.
        • When they feel excited about the activity.

        They learn worse when

        • When it’s long term activities.
        • They play a passive role in the activity.
        • They must assimilate, analyze and interpret the data.
        • They have to work alone.

        2. Reflective students or assimilators

        These students are characterized by observe events and process information from different points of view. His specialty is gathering information and examining it in depth before making his assumptions.

        Their way of working obliges them to be careful in their conclusions, Analyze all the consequences of their actions before carrying them out. They observe, watch and always pay attention to every detail before making a contribution.

        They learn best when

        • When they can take a close look at the information around them.
        • When we give them time to analyze and think before acting.
        • When they can go unnoticed.

        Learn worse when

        • They are forced to have an important place or to be the center of attention.
        • When they don’t have enough time to complete a task.
        • When they are forced to act without thinking first.

        3. Theoretical or convergent students

        This third type of students tends to welcome and integrate information by transforming it into complex theories and with a solid fundamental logic. His thinking is organized sequentially, going through a series of stages before generating any sort of conclusion.

        They should examine and summarize all the information, and value logic and reason above all else, so that they feel disoriented when faced with activities that lack obvious logic and subjective judgments.

        They learn best when

        • They are presented by objective models, theories and systems.
        • When the activity poses a challenge.
        • When they can search and track information.

        They learn worse when

        • Inaccurate, confusing or uncertain activities are presented to them.
        • Very subjective or emotional activities.
        • When they have to work at it without a theoretical frame of reference.

        4. Pragmatic or complacent students

        Pragmatic students they feel comfortable putting new knowledge into practice, Theories and techniques they learn. They don’t like having to debate these theories or continually reflect on the information presented to them.

        In short, they are practical, down-to-earth people with great problem-solving skills who are always on the lookout for the best way to do things.

        They learn best when

        They are offered activities in which they can relate theories to practical situations.
        When they can observe how an activity is carried out. When they can put into practice what they need to learn.

        They learn worse when

        • When abstract activities are presented which are unrelated to reality.
        • When the activity has no purpose established.
        • When they cannot relate the information to practical situations.

        Criticisms of Kolb’s model

        This model has been widely criticized by those who argue that there is very little evidence to support the existence of these styles. A large-scale review of this model concluded that there was not enough research or empirical evidence to support the existence of these styles.

        Likewise, his detractors insist that Kolb he did not take into account how culture and context shapes the learning process.

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