Discussion About Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning


Human beings acquire new ideas and skills through continuous learning. New behaviors can also be acquired through observation or thinking. These developments explain why Kolb’s model of learning has been applied in different situations. The “model’s two continuums (processing and perception) explain how people acquire new ideas through feeling, thinking, watching, or doing” (Wrenn & Wrenn, 2009, p. 259). This discussion, therefore, uses Kolb’s learning model to examine how some behaviors are acquired in society. The targeted behaviors in this essay include drug abuse and domestic violence. Experts have been using the model to produce powerful programs that have the potential to support more individuals affected by such misbehaviors.

Thesis Statement

Kolb’s learning model offers four powerful styles that can determine how people learn (and unlearn) certain misbehaviors such as domestic violence and drug abuse.

Domestic Violence

Cassidy (2004) defines learning as “a powerful process whereby human beings create knowledge through the transformation of their experiences” (p. 421). Knowledge emerges from “the ability to grasp experience and eventually be able to transform it” (Wrenn & Wrenn, 2009, p. 261). Kolb’s learning model or theory has “four unique styles based on a multi-stage cycle” (Cassidy, 2004, p. 423). The concept offers powerful ways that can be used to understand the learning styles of different individuals. The experiential learning cycle is defined by unique characteristics and aspects. For instance, learning is an unending process that focuses on a person’s experience. It is also a holistic approach whereby people adapt significantly to the world. The issue of domestic violence can therefore be examined using the four steps of Kolb’s learning model. A person’s experience is definitely “the most important source of learning and development” (Postmus, Warrener, McMahon, & Macri, 2011, p. 309).

Concrete Experience

People who experience violence might eventually embrace the malpractice. They might become insensitive and consider every form of violence as acceptable. This fact explains why many “children experiencing different forms of domestic violence will have higher chances of engaging in the malpractice in the future” (Postmus et al., 2011, p. 310). As well, mature people can realize that the experiences associated with domestic violence are dreadful and unacceptable. The situation will encourage them to focus on the best practices towards dealing with the vice.

Reflective Observation

More often than not, people will make appropriate observations before making their final judgments. Individuals “who experience or witness different forms of domestic violence might become disoriented” (Cassidy, 2004, p. 428). Young children will feel threatened and wonder why such kind of violence happens. Adults might decide to observe and analyze the misbehavior from different perspectives. This practice will eventually present the best meaning to them. Such adults will examine the issues promoting domestic violence. This stage makes it “easier for the affected persons to look for new meanings” (Postmus et al., 2011, p. 316).

Abstract Conceptualization

This stage is characterized by a logical analysis of the acquired ideas. The “affected individuals will act on intellectual understanding to present the best arguments” (Postmus et al., 2011, p. 318). For instance, some people will explain why such kind of violence is wrong. Some children might believe that every person is vulnerable. Such children will eventually become violent and engage in various unlawful activities. This kind of situation is largely determined by the developmental process of the affected children.

Active Experimentation

This stage of Kolb’s experiential learning model explains how people embrace the best strategies to achieve their goals. The issue of domestic violence will encourage more people to implement new laws and programs that can tackle the problem. As well, the individuals will ensure every offender is held accountable for his or her action (Felten, Gilchrist, & Darby, 2006). Victims of domestic violence might also decide to leave their homes. Such individuals can decide to take risks by confronting the abusers. Children who witness domestic violence in their respective homes tend to become violent (Wrenn & Wrenn, 2009). Such children might also abuse their classmates and friends. Similar misbehaviors might be recorded throughout the individual’s life. These developments describe how human learning takes place.

Drug Abuse

Drug addiction is “a major problem affecting many societies across the globe” (Simon & Daw, 2012, p. 3). Cassidy (2004) believes that “drug abuse is one of the complex diseases affecting many people” (p. 426). This knowledge explains why different theories and practitioners identify the best approaches to support the needs of drug abusers. The important goal has been to empower such individuals and make it easier for them to have fruitful lives. Kolb’s model can therefore be used to understand and explore the major learning processes associated with drug abuse. The learning process can encourage an individual to begin taking various drugs or do away with the malpractice. Some professionals might analyze the existing situation to design evidence-based strategies that can address the issue.

Concrete Experience

This stage describes the feeling experienced by individuals who interact with different drug users. This kind of interaction might encourage some people to examine the potential benefits of drinking alcohol. As well, some individuals might think about the dangers associated with drug abuse (Simon & Daw, 2012). Such ideas and concepts are determined by the behaviors portrayed by different drug abusers (Simon & Daw, 2012). Social workers can also think about the major issues arising from drug abuse.

Reflective Observation

This stage explains how “people will observe a situation before making their final judgments” (Simon & Daw, 2012, p. 5). Individuals who interact with drug addicts might examine the opportunities and challenges associated with drinking. This move will make it easier for them to make conclusive observations. Such observations will eventually inform the people’s judgments. For example, a person who is opposed to drug use can conduct powerful research to understand the problems associated with addiction. On the other hand, some people might begin to embrace the habit without knowing the opportunities and problems associated with it. The “experience, knowledge, and background of the targeted determine will play a critical role towards determining the produced habit” (Turesky & Gallagher, 2011, p. 9).

Abstract Conceptualization

This stage describes how an individual engages in logical analysis. Many people analyze different ideas and issues related to the use of various drugs. Some experts might undertake numerous researches to support the dangers associated with drug addiction. This knowledge will make it easier for them to present powerful arguments. Such professionals might offer meaningful opinions that can discourage more individuals from overusing various drugs (Turesky & Gallagher, 2011). As well, some individuals might identify various benefits associated with drug use. Such individuals will continue to use such drugs. Individuals against the habit will embrace better lifestyles.

Active Experimentation

This stage promotes the best actions and behaviors in the community. A person might continue to use different drugs and eventually become addicted. This outcome will depend on his or her background. Community workers and professionals will also use the acquired information to influence the behaviors of different drug addicts. This goal can be achieved through the use of different programs and campaigns. Such campaigns can be aimed at supporting the needs of many addicts. The programs can also encourage more people in the community to embrace the best practices. Such practices include “avoidance of addictive drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol” (Simon & Daw, 2012, p. 9).


The above discussion shows clearly that Kolb’s model of experiential learning is applicable in different settings. It should also be observed that “learning is a process that follows two continuums” (Simon & Daw, 2012, p. 11). The “processing continuum focuses on a person’s ability to learn through observation and experimentation” (Felten et al., 2006, p. 42). The “perception continuum describes the emotional response whereby individual learn by feeling or thinking” (Turesky & Gallagher, 2011, p. 11). These continuums, therefore, explain how people can analyze different issues such as domestic violence and drug abuse. The essay also shows how different individuals will focus on the best ways to support or do away with these vices. This fact shows that “learning styles are stable behaviors determined by people’s experiences and backgrounds” (Felten et al., 2006, p. 43). In conclusion, Kolb’s experiential model makes it easier for people to acquire new behaviors and practices depending on their expectations in life.

Reference List

Cassidy, S. (2004). Learning Styles: An Overview of Theories, Models, and Measures. Educational Psychology, 24(4), 419-444.

Felten, P., Gilchrist, L., & Darby, A. (2006). Emotion and Learning: Feeling our Way toward a New Theory of Reflection in Service-Learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 12(2), 38-46.

Postmus, J., Warrener, C., McMahon, S., & Macri, L. (2011). Factors that Influence Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors of Students Toward Survivors of Violence. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(2), 303-319.

Simon, D., & Daw, N. (2012). Dual-System Learning Models and Drugs of Abuse. Web.

Turesky, E., & Gallagher, D. (2011). Know thyself: Coaching for leadership using Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory. The Coaching Psychologist, 7(1), 5-14.

Wrenn, J., & Wrenn, B. (2009). Enhancing Learning by Integrating Theory and Practice. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(2), 258-265.

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