Kolb's Learning Styles

Updated July 19, 2017

When researching learning styles, Kolb's Learning Style comes to the forefront. Kolb's theory tries to explain the learning cycle and pinpoint specific styles of learning. Individual style is a learnt process.


David Kolb developed a theory of learning styles in 1984. His theory was predicated on the idea that people developed learning styles like they develop any other style. Kolb determined learning styles are closely related to cognitive skills. Kolb published his theory in the book "Experiential Learning: Experience As The Source Of Learning And Development."

Learning Cycle

Kolb's theory revolves around the concept of a learning cycle. The cycle consists of four stages: experiencing, reflecting, thinking and acting. The learner experiences the material, reflects on its outcome, thinking or assimilating the information, and finally acting on the information. Acting can lead to experiencing, which starts the cycle over.

Development Stages

People prefer different learning styles developed over time. Three distinct stages affect a person's learning style. The first stage is acquisition. This stage is from birth to adolescence, where basic abilities become learnt. Second, specialisation occurs during schooling and personal experiences. Socialisation occurs at this stage. The final stage is integration, which occurs between mid-career and later life. The individual must learn to use non-dominant learning styles.


Kolb has four distinctive learning styles within his theory: diverging (feeling and watching---CE/RO), assimilating (watching and thinking---AC/RO), converging (doing and thinking---AC/AE) and accommodating (doing and feeling---CE/AE). The common names are: Diverger, Assimilator, Converger and Accommodator.


Knowledge of the Kolb Learning Styles helps in determining their implications in different areas of life. In problem solving, teamwork and conflict resolution, individuals who know their style can anticipate reactions and find solutions. Learning styles identification helps in communication at work or home and in considering a career that fits personal preferences.

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About the Author

Joe Chandler is a marketing consultant with experience in education, customer service, and business and consumer electronics. Chandler has been writing for a year. He has over 20 years in corporate America and education, with an M.B.A. in marketing. He is a Navy veteran trained in nuclear power plant operation.