Experiential Learning and Learning Styles

David Kolb is an American social scientist known for his work in experiential learning. He reckons that we learn through spiralling through processes of participating in ‘concrete’ experiences, about which we make reflective observations, which enable us to develop abstract conceptualisations about our experiences, which then enable us to actively experiment with doing things differently. In other words, we adjust our mental models of how we behave in life, based on learning from our experiences.

Kolb reckons that out of this process, there are nine learning ‘styles’ that we subconsciously work to. We use elements of each but tend to be biased to one. Here’s a model of the styles and how they fit with the learning process.

Learning cycle

The seventh of these styles is the acting learning style.

It’s Like the Superhero Charging Forward

The acting learning style is typical of the approach of most entrepreneurs. The build on experience and look for abstract concepts (data and evidence relating to the opportunity that they spot) and then they act. They charge forward, knowing that they’re right.

It’s All About Strong Motivation for Action

The acting learning style is characterised by a strong motivation for goal-directed action. It draws on active experimentation while balancing concrete experience and abstract conceptualisation.

Fail Fast, Fail Forward

Rupesh Singh runs Education Centre of Australia (ECA), a higher education provider and services company.

Singh’s approach is to be constantly moving to the next idea once one has started. He actively experiments in different divisions of his business, drawing on concrete experiences and ideas generated by his experienced team.

ECA is the embodiment of fail fast, fail forward. Most times his ideas work although sometimes they don’t. The acting learning style is not ‘just do it’; it shows the power of acting based on experience, supported by theory and best practice.

A Spiral of Positive Inertia

In 2017, Singh announced he wanted to move into online learning. He experimented with his own higher degree provider Asia Pacific International College, moving its Project Management degrees online.

Armed with that experience, he acquired Australia’s first fully virtual higher education provider.

Armed with that experience he spotted an opportunity to buy ITMasters, a start-up working with Charles Sturt University, with an interesting marketing model.

Armed with that experience he moved to offer Australian and New Zealand university courses online into India.

The spiral of acting on experience and advice from trusted advisors continues. Over 15 years or more Singh has developed a multi-million dollar multi-national.

If You’re Not Learning, You’re Not Leading

Learning, whatever your style is a major contributor to developing as a leader. We’re excited to offer a brand-new programme of learning for transformational leadership for ambitious professionals to fast-track their career, set up their own business or refine their leadership skills. Click here for more details.

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