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David A. Kolb (b. 1939) is an American educational theorist whose interests and publications focus on experiential learning, the individual and social change, career development, and executive and professional education. He is the founder and chairman of Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc. (EBLS), and a Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Kolb earned his BA from Knox College in 1961 and his MA and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1964 and 1967 respectively, in social psychology. In the early 1970s, Kolb and Ronald Fry (both at the Weatherhead School of Management) developed "The Experiential Learning Model," (published in Kolb and Fry 1975) composed of four elements:
- concrete experience,
- observation and reflection of that experience,
- formation of abstract concepts based upon the reflection,
- testing the new concepts,
These four elements are the essence of a spiral of learning that can begin with any one of the four elements, but typically begins with a concrete experience. He named his model to emphasize its links to ideas from John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Kurt Lewin, and others writers of the experiential learning paradigm. His model was developed predominantly for use with adult education, but has found widespread pedagogical implications in higher education.
Dr. Kolb is renowned in educational circles for his learning styles model and its assessment tool, the Learning-Style Inventory (LSI). His model is built upon the idea that learning preferences can be described using two continuums: active-reflective and abstract-concrete. The result is four types of learners: active-abstract (converger); active-concrete (accommodator); reflective-abstract (assimilator); and reflective-concrete (diverger). The LSI is designed to determine an individual's learning preference. The LSI and other tools are more completely explained and available at Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc. (EBLS).
Kolb, D.A., Rubin, I.M., McIntyre, J.M. (1974). Organizational Psychology: A Book of Readings, 2nd edition. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Downloaded July 12, 2005, from http://www.learningfromexperience.com/research-library.
Kolb. D. A. and Fry, R. (1975) Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. in C. Cooper (ed.) Theories of Group Process, London: John Wiley.da:David A. Kolb
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