Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
For decades the ﬁeld of Extension education has utilized a portfolio of theories that can enhance educational practices. In this post we will discuss Kolb’s experiential learning theory and how this theory can be applied to the profession of Extension education.
Experiential learning theory (Kolb, 1984) is a model of learning that proposes that learning is a four-step process. It describes how learners learn from experience through four steps:
Figure 1. Kolb’s experiential learning cycle.
Kolb asserts that experiential learning can begin at any one of the four steps and that the clientele cycles continuously through these four steps. In practice, the learning process often begins with a person carrying out a particular action and then seeing its effect (Kolb, 1984). Following this, the second step in the cycle is to understand these effects in the particular instance to be able to anticipate what would be the result in a similar situation (Kolb, 1984). Following the pattern, the third step would involve understanding the general principle under which the particular instance falls, for example, by looking up the literature or conversing with an Extension Specialist or other Extension educator (Kolb, 1984)..
When the general principle is understood, the last step, according to Kolb (1984), is its application through action in a new circumstance. Two aspects can be seen as especially noteworthy (Kolb, 1984):
The following are some ‘take home messages’ related to Kolb’s experiential learning theory:
Kolb D. (1984). Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.