David Kolb's Model

The David Kolb styles model is based on the Experiential Learning Theory, as explained in David A. Kolb's book Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (1984). The ELT model outlines two related approaches toward grasping experience: Concrete Experience and Abstract Conceptualization, as well as two related approaches toward transforming experience: Reflective Observation and Active Experimentation. According to Kolb’s model, the ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. In order for learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated. As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach. The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual’s preferred approaches. These learning styles are as follows:

1. Converger;
2. Diverger;
3. Assimilator;
4. Accommodator;

Convergers are characterized by abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. They are good at making practical applications of ideas and using deductive reasoning to solve problems.

Divergers tend toward concrete experience and reflective observation. They are imaginative and are good at coming up with ideas and seeing things from different perspectives.

Assimilators are characterized by abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. They are capable of creating theoretical models by means of inductive reasoning.

Accommodators use concrete experience and active experimentation. They are good at actively engaging with the world and actually doing things instead of merely reading about and studying them.

Kolb’s model gave rise to the Learning Style Inventory, an assessment method used to determine an individual's learning style. An individual may exhibit a preference for one of the four styles – Accommodating, Converging, Diverging and Assimilating – depending on his approach to learning via the experiential learning theory model.
Honey and Mumford’s Model

In the mid 1970’s Peter Honey and Alan Mumford adapted David Kolb’s model for use with a population of middle/senior managers in business. They published their version of the model in The Manual of Learning Styles (1982) and Using Your Learning Styles (1983).

Two adaptations were made to Kolb’s experiential model. Firstly, the stages in the cycle were renamed to accord with managerial experiences of decision making/problem solving. The Honey & Mumford stages are:

1. Having an experience
2. Reviewing the experience
3. Concluding from the experience
4. Planning the next steps.

Secondly, the styles were directly aligned to the stages in the cycle and named Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist. These are assumed to be acquired preferences that are adaptable, either at will or through changed circumstances, rather than being fixed personality characteristics. The Honey & Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire is a self-development tool and differs from Kolb’s Learning Style inventory by inviting managers to complete a checklist of work-related behaviours without directly asking managers how they learn. Having completed the self-assessment, managers are encouraged to focus on strengthening underutilised styles in order to become better equipped to learn from a wide range of everyday experiences.

A MORI survey commissioned by [The Campaign for Learning in 1999 found the Honey & Mumford LSQ to be the most widely used system for assessing preferred learning styles in the local government sector in the UK.



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