The Experiential Learning Cycle

Learning from experience forms the basis of all the work of The Firefly Group. Whether drawing upon the life experiences of individuals or capitalizing upon a structured experienced shared by the whole group, we encourage participants to maximize their learning through systematic analysis and application. LC Spinner (c)2002 side A

The basis of our understanding of experiential learning comes from David Kolb and his work Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (published by Prentice Hall, 1983, ISBN: 0132952610). Kolb contends that learning is a process of grasping information and transforming it into something usable for the learner. He says that this grasping and transforming process cannot be completed unless the learner goes through four major stages: Concrete Experience (doing), Reflective Observation (thinking), Abstract Concepts (theorizing), and Active Experimentation (practice).

The implications for both learners and trainers are numerous but at a minimum it is not enough to dump information (either through an experience or a theory) onto a learner. Instead, the learner also has to do something (either through thinking or practice) to manipulate the information and assimilate it into their own world view.

LC Spinner (c)2002 side BWhen we train other trainers about how to include the phases of the learning cycle in their own workshops The Firefly Group uses a great variety of interactive strategies to model the very concepts we are teaching. In addition, we make the handouts as interesting and playful as possible to engage multiple learning styles and encourage further experimentation.

The Learning Cycle Spinner ©2002 is a circle with an inner disk of green. Turn the green disk in the direction of the arrows to find a reminder and brief description of each phase of the experiential learning cycle. Flip the Learning Cycle Spinner over to see a number of suggested training techniques for the corresponding phase of the learning cycle.


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