If you’re a learning and development professional, you’ll know that the term “learning styles” has some negative associations, mainly due to one particular “approach” (I use the word loosely) that has been inaccurately connected to a particular usage of the phrase.
I have emphasize that David Kolb’s use of the term “learning styles” has nothing to do with so-called Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic (VAK) learning styles; if you’re interested in scientifically dubious, pedagogically damaging nonsense, please look elsewhere.
Now read on…
In the years since Kolb first devised the learning styles inventory, the definitions of the four learning styles – Diverging, Assimilating, Converging, and Accommodating (see Table 1) – have been refined through research and clinical observation (2000, p.4) in studies carried out in 1984 and 1999.
|Learning style||Learning characteristic||Description|
|Converger||Abstract conceptualization + active experimentation||strong in practical application of ideas|
|can focus on hypo-deductive reasoning on specific problems|
|has narrow interests|
|Diverger||Concrete experience + strong in imaginative ability||reflective observation|
|good at generating ideas and seeing things from different perspectives|
|interested in people|
|broad cultural interests|
|Assimilator||Abstract conceptualization + reflective observation||strong ability to create theoretical models|
|excels in inductive reasoning|
|concerned with abstract concepts rather than people|
|Accommodator||Concrete experience + active experimentation||greatest strength is doing things|
|more of a risk-taker|
|performs well when required to react to immediate circumstances|
|solves problems intuitively|
Current developments in ELT have led Kolb and his colleagues at Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc. to designate second- and third-order learning styles (pp.23-24) facilitating the creation of a learning styles matrix, which Kolb et alia believe assists in understanding learning
at a deeper and more comprehensive level than previously, and provides guidance for applications to help people improve their learning, and designing better processes in education and development… in organizations and society.
Boyatzis, R. E. Kolb, D. A. & Mainemelis, C. (2000) Experiential Learning Theory: Previous Research and New Directions. [Internet] IN: Sternberg, R. J. & Zhang, L. F. (Eds.). Perspectives on cognitive, learning, and thinking styles. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Available from: http://www.learningfromexperience.com/images/uploads/
experiential-learning-theory.pdf [Accessed 23rd March 2010]
Kolb, D. A. (2006) Learning Styles Matrix diagram. [Internet] Available from: http://www.businessballs.com/freepdfmaterials/
kolb_learning_styles_diagram_colour.pdf [Accessed 8th March 2017]