donderdag 5 februari 2015

Learning - Kolb

One recurring topic of this blog is learning. In times of economic crisis, customers are increasing their expectations that temporary personnel are certified. The big software houses, at least in the Netherlands, pass this burden on at least partly to their employees. The employers pay for the course, but the employee will have to study in the evening hours.

This blog is intended for employees, not for their managers. Now we (I am an employee too) can grunt about the situation, but that ain't gonna change it. It is much more efficient to concentrate on how to get that certification asap with a minimum of effort.

One learning model is that of Kolb, based on what is called Experential learning.  His theory is that learning happens in a cycle of four stages:

In order for learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated.

This in itself is a powerful studying add: if a course you are following presents a new concept, try experimenting with it.  This experimenting leads to concrete experience, about which you can reflect if you have understood the concept well.

As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach. The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual's preferred approaches. They can be displayed along two axis:


According to Kolb,  on each of the two axis one can be either busy with concrete experience or with abstract conceptualization, and not both at the same moment. The same goes for the horizontal axis. Again according to Kolb, People tend to specialize their learning style by combining two of the axis sides at a time, giving a preferred learning style in each of the four quadrants. That gives four preferred learning styles:

Accommodators are in the upper left quadrant: They prefer to combine experimentation and hands on experience. The name accommodators may, i.m.h.o., be slightly misleading. The accommodator does not hesitate to ask questions, and is ready to challenge theories. He or she prefers gut feeling over logic and happily receives information from others.
Divergers are people whose skills concentrate on concrete experience and reflective observation. They are imaginative, love discussion, brainstorming and group work. They are in the upper right quadrant.
Assimilators are in the bottom right quadrant. Theories, models, graphs, lectures? If you are an assimilator, you thrive on them. You will also rather talk than experiment.
Convergers are the fourth group, in the bottom left quadrant. Combining abstract conceptualization with active experiment, convergers work alone on specific problems, test hypothesis and strive for the best answer.
There are tests around if you really want to know your favorite learning style if it isn't clear to you from the short description above. However, this theory is not intended to label you "this is how you are". The true intention is to see if there are gaps or weak spots in your learning style and work on it.

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