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Is learning the same as performing consciously?

January 24, 2012

Most trainers and learning & development professionals have probably heard of Kolb’s learning cycle, describing the process of learning from the things that we do. Concretely, it describes four steps:

  1. Concrete experience (doing / having an experience)
  2. Reflective observation (reviewing / reflecting on the experience)
  3. Abstract conceptualisation (concluding / learning from the experience)
  4. Active experimentation (planning / trying out what you have learned)
    (source: University of Leeds)

For the sake of challenging the model because I can, I’ve juggled it around a little bit resulting in the following drawings:

From performing consciously to learning?

The reason I adapted Kolb’s learning cycle is that it felt like it was describing the process of ‘performing consciously’, rather than pure learning. The distinction is so vague that it’s probably not worth mentioning, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway. For me, the Kolb+ drawing describes actions, followed by an evaluation of the result of these actions and planning new ones (on the left), but with an extra element.

While reflecting on our actions (and their value to us), we obviously learn. However, to increase the value of the learning experience, it might make sense to actively plan a learning experience. That’s what I try to visualise with the extra steps on the right side of the drawing. I’m seperating actions (doing) form practice or learning experiences. For true learning-geeks, you could say that the evaluate-step on the left side corresponds to Kirkpatricks level 3 and 4 evaluations, and the evaluate-step on the right with level 1 and 2.

For me personally, this model -although a bit more complicated- is more accurate, especially if you factor in the concept of meta-learning, or learning to learn (See post: “Do, learn to do, learn to learn to do“). In a next post I will expand the model to include this.

Q: Dear reader, do you agree it makes sense to seperate ‘learning’ from ‘performing consciously’?


From → Learning

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