Constructivism 5: Kolb’s Learning Styles

Continuing our exploration of Experiential Learning Theory. In the years since Kolb first devised the learning styles inventory, the definitions of each type

  1. Diverging
  2. Assimilating
  3. Converging
  4. Accommodating

(see Table 1), have been refined through research and clinical observation (2000, p.4) in studies carried out in 1984 and 1999.

Kolb’s Learning Styles’ Characteristics

Table 1. Kolb’s Characteristics

Learning StyleLearning CharacteristicDescription
ConvergerAbstract conceptualization + active experimentationstrong in practical application of ideas
can focus on hypo-deductive reasoning on specific problems
has narrow interests
DivergerConcrete experience + reflective observationstrong in imaginative ability
good at generating ideas and seeing things from different perspectives
interested in people
broad cultural interests
AssimilatorAbstract conceptualization + reflective observationstrong ability to create theoretical models
excels in inductive reasoning
concerned with abstract concepts rather than people
AccommodatorConcrete experience + active experimentationgreatest strength is doing things
more of a risk-taker
performs well when required to react to immediate circumstances
solves problems intuitively

Current developments in Experiential Learning Theory 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.

(2000, p.28)

Next: Social Learning



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: [Accessed 23rd February 2018]

Kolb, D. A. (2006) Learning Styles Matrix diagram. [Internet] Available from:
[Accessed 8th November 2013]