Eight Important Things to Know About the Experiential Learning Cycle

The experiential learning cycle is the most widely recognised and used concept in Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) (Kolb 2015; Kolb & Kolb 2017). The simplicity and usefulness of the four stage cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking and acting is the main reason for its popularity (see Figure 1). It is an adaptable template for the creation of educational programs that actively engage learners in the learning process, providing an alternative to the overused and ineffective traditional information transmission model. In a typical application, the educator provides a direct concrete experiencing event, such as a field trip, a lab experiment, or a role play, and then organises personal or group reflections on the experience. The conceptualisation phase focuses on understanding the meaning of the experience often with the addition of related subject matter lectures or reading. Learners are then asked to apply what they have learned in their own life and work context. There have been countless applications of the learning cycle concept in educational programs ranging from individual class sessions, to courses and training programs, degree programs, the total school and university curriculum, and even to national curricular policies and standards in New Zealand (NZ Ministry of Education 2004) and Singapore (Singapore Ministry of Education 2015).