Experiential learning has traditionally held a place in education in the form of either internships or job-shadowing to complement a conventional program. However, with technology and the rise of MOOCs, higher education is looking towards implementing more experiential learning methods. A good example of this is the recent trend of competency-based degrees where learners develop skills from real-world experiences. 

In my opinion, the biggest single occurrence in this century that influenced our understanding of learning did not take place at all in the field of education but rather in psychology. It was the dramatic shift from the reductionist view of human actions to non-reductionist views in the early sixties. If I had to choose one learning theory that applied most to me, then it would be Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory. How one learns is a fascinating process that includes a variety of theoretical methods and individual learning styles. In 1984, David Kolb created the Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) and it is still one of the most widely used learning models. Experiential Learning Theory is based on the premise that a person learns from direct experience or ‘learns by doing.’ I learn more when I am experiencing the learning process rather than just reading about it. Kolb’s theory is particularly interesting to me because it focuses on the learner’s perspective and on personal development. In experiential learning, the individual guides the learning process as opposed to the conventional method.

Kolb views gaining knowledge as a four-level, continuous manner in which the learners acquire understanding from every new experience. His theory treats learning as a holistic process in which one constantly creates and implements thoughts for improvement. According to Kolb, effective gaining knowledge of can most effective take area when a learner completes a cycle of the four stages; concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation.

In the first stage of the cycle, concrete experience, a learner has an experience that serves as the premise for observation. The individual encounters a new experience that creates an opportunity for mastering. According to Kolb’s concept, a person cannot research by just watching and reading. And this applies to me because the purpose here is to actively participate in the experience and learn from it.

In the second level, reflective observation, the person reflects on the experience before making any judgments. Any inconsistencies between experience and understanding are also checked. This is because the goal here is to check the situation and find the meaning behind the experience. 

In abstract conceptualization, a person develops theories to provide an explanation for their experience. This analysis regularly gives rise to a new concept or changes a preexisting concept. In this degree, the individual identifies ordinary themes, issues and/or troubles to be able to assist them with new studying experiences. For me, this identifies as to create standards that could be practiced in the future.

In the final degree, people apply what they learned inside the experience to another scenario. They use their theories to solve problems, make decisions and influence human beings and/or events. The learner takes dangers and implements theories to see what will result (experimentation). The intention is to check the principles in different and new conditions to learn how to improve.

While Kolb's theory is one of the commonly adopted instructional learning frameworks, it has been widely criticized for several reasons. Supporting Kolb's own study indicates a correlation exists between the learning styles of the students and their selected class. And individuals who choose majors in college and careers better matched with their learning styles seem to be more dedicated to their careers. Experiential learning can be good for helping individuals learn new things while testing their own abilities. The philosophy deals with how learners should respond to their own strengths and improve positions where they are weakest. However, this theory does not adequately address the position of non-reflective memory that plays in the process of learning. While this hypothesis is excellent for explaining how people learn, it does little to investigate learning happening in broader groups of society. How does the relationship of the participant with a greater community influence the cycle of experiential learning?