Process - Top Tips - Kolb's Learning Cycle

Kolb's Learning Cycle


What is it?

A theory that describes the way in which we learn something new, named after David



What’s it about?

The theory holds that we go through four stages when we learn something. Firstly we have some kind of experience – this may be watching, doing, or listening for example.

We then think about it, or reflect on it. We then come up with some ideas about it, and draw some conclusions from this, and finally put our conclusions into practise. This modifies the way we approach the experience next time, and so we continue around the cycle.


Process - Top Tips - Kolb's Learning Cycle

Kolbs Learning Cycle

However, not everyone will spend the same amount of time at all stages of the cycle.

This is where we get our preferred learning style from:


Activists will prefer to spend the most time involved in the experience, and want to return as soon as possible to this stage of the cycle.


Reflectors will prefer to reflect on it, and review what they found out, what went well, etc.


Theorists will prefer to draw conclusions by thinking about it, and may prefer to do this rather than get involved with the experience.


Pragmatists will be drawn to putting it into practise, and appear to be impatient to ‘get on with it’.


What else might I need to know?

This theory helps us design good training which will include all stages of the learning cycle and appeal to all learning styles, both in store and on courses. See also the page on Learning Styles.