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Experiential Learning Theory

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Experiential learning theory describes the cognitive transformation of concrete experience into abstract knowledge through contemplation. It is one of the learning styles identified by educational theorist David Kolb. Kolb's work on experiential learning theory was influenced by the work of educational reformer John Dewey.

Experiential Learning Theory

Kolb's model of experiential learning includes four parts: experience, personal reflection of that experience, the development of abstract views resulting from that reflection and the experiential testing of those concepts through new experience. This model of experiential learning theory suggests that learning occurs within a cycle that begins again with each new experience. The abstract knowledge gained from the prior experience is used to stage the new experience for further learning.

Kolb further differentiated experiential learning theory to identify different types of experiential learners. For example, he identified assimilators as individuals who learned best by considering logic and established theories. In contrast, accommodators learn best when they interact with the topic of learning through a hands on experience. Accommodators are closely associated with kinesthetic learners, those with kinesthetic intelligence who prefer to engage in physical actions when learning. By identifying an individual's preferred type of learning using experiential learning theory, instructors can develop lesson plans that cater to the student's learning preferences.