Kolb’s theory of reflection

Kolb’s theory works on two levels. First, it works on a four-stage cycle of learning. Second, it works to address four separate learning styles.  This combination creates a focus on the student’s internal cognitive processes because he believes that learning involves the acquisition of abstract concepts applied flexibly in a variety of situations.


Kolb’s theory addresses 4 learning styles:

Diverging Emphasizes the innovative and imaginative approach to doing things. Views concrete situations from many perspectives and adapts by observation rather than by action. Interested in people and tends to be feeling-oriented. Likes such activities as cooperative groups and brainstorming.
Assimilating Pulls a number of different observations and thoughts into an integrated whole. Likes to reason inductively and create models and theories. Likes to design projects and experiments.
Converging Emphasizes the practical application of ideas and solving problems. Likes decision-making, problem-solving, and the practical application of ideas. Prefers technical problems over interpersonal issues.
Accommodating Uses trial and error rather than thought and reflection. Good at adapting to changing circumstances; solves problems in an intuitive, trial-and-error manner, such as discovery learning. Also tends to be at ease with people.


According to Kolb, effective learning occurs when a person undergoes a concrete experience followed by observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to the formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and generalizations (conclusions) which are then utilized to test future hypotheses, resulting in new experiences. Because this can be simplified to (1) experience, (2) reflect, (3) reframe, and (4) reform, it leads to a model similar to “What? So what? What now?” therefore similar prompts can be utilized for this model.



Kolb, David A. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1984

Kolb, D. A. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT press.