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Experiential Learning - Let the experience do the teaching

Editorial Team
In 1984, David A. Kolb published a groundbreaking book titled ‘Experiential Learning’. This book essentially exposed the principle that a person learns through discovery and experience. In addition, Kolb demonstrated that there was more than one style of learning. According to Kolb, learning styles may be seen through two continuums; going from concrete to abstract and active to reflective. Processing information and perceiving information represent the two continuums identified by Kolb. According to him, a learner will evolve on these continuums because of his or her apprehension and preferences in processing or perceiving information. He suggested that it was preferable for a student to learn through this cycle, allowing him or her to experiment with four learning styles in order to have a better understanding of a subject.
Certain technologies or educational activities would be more appropriate to a specific learning style. The following table provides definitions for each of the learning styles.
Style Definition Educational implications
  • Wishes to know ‘Why’ of a situation
  • Seeks to reason on concrete information
  • Explores what the course or the subject has to offer
  • Prefers a detailed, systematic, reasoned presentation of information
  • Presentation of practical applications of novel educational content
  • Online virtual labs with instructions
  • Posting detailed solutions to problems
  • PowerPoint slides of lecture material
  • Course requirements (e.g. detailed rubrics for papers or other assignments)
  • Wishes to answer the question – ‘What is to be known?’
  • Prefers accurate information and a structured presentation
  • Respects the knowledge of experts
  • Research results
  • Logical presentation of new information
  • Reference links for further study/complex learning
  • Online course glossaries
  • Notepad for assembling course notes and online resources for study
  • Wishes to know the ‘How’ of a situation
  • Prefers presentation of useful information and application
  • Practical assignments
  • Work helps to measure his or her progress
  • Hot links (links when clicked, take the learner to other places on the course website or the Internet)
  • Use of chat rooms as a discussion forum
  • Use of newsgroups or bulletin board systems
  • Use of e-mail discussion groups
  • Wishes to know – ‘What would happen’, if a particular option is tried
  • Researches relevant information when learning
  • Prefers presentations- where he is able to see- what he is able to do and what others have done
  • Likes complex subjects and makes relationships between several aspects of a subject
  • Simulation
  • Exploration of websites 
  • Video case studies
  • Independent study ideas with online resource links
  • Links to students' previous work