Involve me …

Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand. — Confucius.

Kolb’s learning cycle involves a series of experiences that begin with (1) a concrete experience; (2) a reflective observation; (3) an abstract conceptualization; and (4) an active experimentation. The underlying principle is that learning encompasses these four phases of experience that has the learner engaged. (Lowy and Hood, 2004).

I have a personal translation of these phases of experience. It has been my experience that once the learner has the first experience of reflective observation, it becomes a part of every other phase. So, during abstract conceptualization and active experimentation, the learner is always engaged in reflective observation. He critically examines what he’s seen or heard and turns it over in his mind; measuring it against truth or knowledge he already holds.

This process of thought begins a cycle within Kolb’s learning cycle: (1) thought/critical reflection; (2) questions; (3) issues identified; (4) engagement in research; and (5) fact finding and conclusion.

Just as Kolb’s learning cycle repeats, this process of critical reflection repeats ad infinitum. It is this process that acts as a catalyst or the impetus for learners to pursue answers to identified issues or questions (whether personal, social or global) and engage in personal inquiry or academic research.


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