Four Steps to Student Engagement Using Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

While the number of students taking online/blended courses continues to increase, strategies to engage students in learning have been slow to emerge. Discover how to use Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle to engage students in online/blended learning. Take home a 4-step student engagement strategy to implement on your campus tomorrow. 

Presenters

Dr. Nichole Karpel is a professor and higher education consultant who has over 10 years' experience in academic administration, program management and online learning in multi-campus systems. In this role, she consults with colleges and universities on innovations in teaching and learning. Dr. Karpel earned a Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from George Washington University, a M.Ed. from The Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. in Sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University.
John B. Craig, Ed.D., is Assistant Professor and Director of the Academic Development Program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Craig has extensive experience teaching online and supervising online faculty. He has also served as Subject Matter expert for Strayer University's Graduate Education program. Dr. Craig's approach to teaching is innovative and rooted in his belief that all students can learn when provided the proper support.

Extended Abstract

Four Steps to Student Engagement Using Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

Outcomes of Session:

  1. Review growth in online/blended learning
  2. Outline Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC)
  3. Discuss connection between ELC and online student engagement
  4. Provide practical ideas of how ELC can be implemented

Outcome 1 – Review growth in online/blended learning

  1. Online/blended learning continue to grow in postsecondary education although increases are in differentiated markets [show chart]
  2. Growth continues in online learning in K-12 [show chart]

Outcome 2 – Outline Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

  1. Stage 1: Concrete

Kolb’s (1984) Stage 1 starts with the learner participation in the learning process.  It is believed that involvement in the learning process will result in greater investment in learning, ultimately impacting student engagement. Especially important in an online learning environment, students need more than to be recipients of information; they need to experience learning.

  • Discuss ideas for Concrete in discussion boards
  • Discuss ideas for Concrete in assignments
  • Discuss ideas for Concrete in readings

b. Stage 2: Reflective

The second stage of the Experiential Learning Cycle is Reflective. In this stage, the learner takes a break from doing and observes, asks questions, and accumulates and consolidates information. Stepping back from doing gives the learner an opportunity to assess and analyze what they have done and consider opportunities for future application. In an online environment, journals are often used for reflective activities but let’s consider some other ways to apply the Reflective stage.

  • Discuss ideas for Reflection in discussion boards
  • Discuss ideas for Reflection in e-portfolios
  • Discuss ideas for Reflection in blended learning

c. Stage 3: Abstract

The third stage of the Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle is Abstract Conceptualization.  In this stage, the learner critically applies thought and logic to the learning experience.  Moreover, this stage affords the learner the opportunity to think very deeply about the learning experience and to make connections which will help provide context and meaning to said experience. Furthermore, the learner begins to draw comparisons between what they have done and what they know.  In this stage, learners often apply theories, facts and figures which help them make meaning of the learning experience.  In an online environment, here are some ways Abstract Conceptualization is applied:

  • Discuss ideas for applying logic in discussion boards
  • Discuss ideas for applying logic, concepts and ideas in lectures
  • Discuss ideas for using concepts in assignments

d.Stage 4: Active

The fourth stage of the Experiential Learning Cycle is Active Experimentation.  In this stage, the learner is now learning by doing.  This stage can be quite fun and exciting for learners, as they now have an opportunity to actually physically, mentally and kinesthetically engage in the learning experience.  “Learning arises from the resolution of creative tension among these four learning modes.  This process is portrayed as an idealized learning cycle or spiral where the learner ‘touches all the bases’ – experiencing, reflecting, thinking and acting” (Kolb, 2015).  It is important to note that all of these stages must be actualized in order for optimal learning to take place, according to Kolb. 

  • Discuss ideas for experiencing learning in an online environment (interviews, internships, practicums, etc.)
  • Audience participation in learning activity

Outcome 3 - Discuss connection between ELC and online student engagement

Outcome 4 - Provide practical ideas of how ELC can be implemented in online learning [distribute handout of ideas]

 

References

Kolb, David (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice Hall: NJ.

Kolb, David A. (2015). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. 2nd Edition.  Pearson Education, Inc.: Upper Saddle River, NJ.