Kolb Learning Cycle

Get Close to Opera is going to run a training week in February 2019 about Opera through #multipleintelligences #womenrights #disabilities and #immigrantinclusion. Today we introduce the module developed by ESART (Spain): “Get close to learning. Creating a virtuous circle of good practice.”

If you are interested in this training module, participate in the #GCTO Training Week

Dave gets close to Opera

The upcoming Get Close to Opera (GCTO) training sessions to be celebrated in Matera, Italy at the end of February 2019 promise to bring current and aspiring Opera and Arts educational practitioners  together with a range of professional facilitators who will lead workshops and classes covering key aspects of  the developing practical GCTO implementation methodology. The facilitators will lead a diverse assortment of sessions and workshops relevant to our proposal to deploy Opera and Arts educational activities strategically to facilitate the integration of migrants into European life, culture and society. Currently, the training modules are set to cover themes such as Multiple Intelligence Theory, Project Planning, Gender Equality, Access and Inclusion, Participatory Arts Education, Co-Creation, Cultural Mediation and Monitoring and Assessment.

Over the coming months leading up to to the Matera event there will be frequent updates on the activities to take place and what they will entail. So, as part of that on-going information stream, we start here with a look at the Monitoring and Assessment module. This session has been baptised as “Get Close to Learning” and its broad purpose is the provision to training facilitators of some basic evaluation guidelines capable of building their capacity in the design and implementation of effective evaluation tools that can contribute to an on-going cycle of improvement to good practice in teaching, facilitation and learning.

The tag line for the module is: Creating a virtuous circle of good practice. “

The session will include theoretical and interactive practical elements including:

  • Design effective monitoring and data collection strategies and tools
  • Employ appropriate qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques.
  • Create reports that are accessible to a range of users
  • Draw conclusions that inform improvements in learning and delivery practices.
  • Implement findings and continue with the virtuous circle.


These final two points provide the perfect opportunity for me to introduce you to Dave – maybe you know him already.
I am referring to David A. Kolb, the learning theorist who, in 1984, proposed his experiential learning theory. The model contains two broad elements that include a four stage learning cycle alongside a separate dimension that focuses upon four distinct learning styles.

The Kolb Learning Cycle looks like this:

Kolb Learning Cycle

Kolb’s Learning Styles inventory contemplates four distinct approaches that individuals take to learning.
The individual styles are defined according to how a person understands and processes information. A short description of each style includes: [1]

Style Convergent

The convergent learning style relies primarily on the dominant learning abilities of abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. The greatest strength of this approach lies in problem solving, decision-making, and the practical application of ideas.

Style Divergent

The divergent learning style has the opposite learning strengths from the convergent. It emphasizes concrete experience and reflective observation. Its greatest strength lies in imaginative ability and awareness of meaning and values.

Style Assimilative

In assimilation, the dominant learning abilities are abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. The greatest strength of this orientation lies in inductive reasoning and the ability to create theoretical models, in assimilating disparate observations into an integrated explanation.

Style Accomodative

The accommodative learning style has the opposite strengths from assimilation, emphasizing concrete experience and active experimentation. The greatest strength of this orientation lies in doing things, in carrying out plans and tasks and getting involved in new experiences.


The Kolb theories are relevant to a variety of  the GCTO work as the Learning Cycle provides an understanding of and, indeed, a framework for  structrured reflective practice that can lead to the creation of  a virtuous circle of good practice in both delivery and evaluation.

Learning styles describe how each person learns and not what they actually learn. While everyone will possess a dominant style no one style is inherently better than another. Awareness of own and others’ styles with respect to working and evaluation processes, an awareness of the mix of styles in a group c is key. This can represent an important factor when deciding upon course contents, delivery method, communications channels and, bringing things back to assessment, the design of effective monitoring and evaluation tools that resonate with the group.

We’ll discuss more about the Kolb theories and their relevance and application to our GCTO work in a future submission. If you want to delve deeper into Kolb’s theories the internet abounds in papers, You Tube Videos and other information. To get a sense of your own Kolb-defined learning style you can take a test available online at:http://www.bunbury.wa.gov.au

[1] Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.