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Experiential Learning Cycle

(adapted from Glaser 1990)

Get group on track


7 2
Evaluation Structured learning

experience

6
3
Skills practice and
Processing
knowledge application
and presenting

4
5 Theory input
Feedback to participants
Designing experiential learning

Glaser (1990) expanded Kolb’s learning model by showing how the cycle could be used to underpin
the design and facilitation of a learning programme. Glaser’s model:

• increases the number of steps


• describes what facilitators do during each step in the cycle

The steps in Glaser’s development of the experiential learning cycle are described below. This
approach need not necessarily be followed in its entirety but it may stimulate your thoughts about the
structure of workshops and learning activities.

Step 1 Getting the group on track

Here the facilitator’s aim is to help students focus on the concepts, skills and attitudes to be covered
by being alerted to the purpose/objectives of the session. In this stage they will set themselves up –
get on track- for the learning to follow.

Step 2 Structured learning experience

Students are introduced, via a group activity, to the concepts and skills being studied, that is, they
have a ‘concrete experience’. Structured experiences can include, for example, case studies, games,
simulations and videos. These activities will probably lead to reactions related to past experience of
similar situations. This process gives a basis for the next step.

Step 3 Processing/presenting

Students reflect critically and discuss their reactions to the activity. This discussion may be in a small
task grouping followed by a presentation of the main learning to the whole group.

Step 4 Theory input

Relevant theory is presented to clarify both the structured learning experience and the critical
reflections of the students. In Kolb’s terms this input helped them to learn by thinking. The theory
may be introduced by the facilitator via, for example a presentation, written material or video, or
students may develop their own theories to explain steps 2 and 3.

Step 5 Feedback to students

Learners get feedback on their own use of knowledge, attitudes or skills suggested by the theory, that
is, on their performance as it relates to the theory. Learner feedback may arise in a number of ways,
for example, by completing a skills or style inventory or by group or tutor feedback.

Step 6 Skill practice, knowledge and attitude application

The group is given the opportunity to practice and apply their learning. This enables them to
incorporate the knowledge, skills and attitudes developed into their own profile by trying them out in a
non-threatening environment and reflecting on how they might be used in ‘real’ situations. This
corresponds with Kolb’s ‘testing implications of concepts on new situations’ – the planning stage.
Ways of progressing this stage include solving work-related problems and developing action plans.

The learner is engaged in:

• focusing on what is to be learned


• experiencing a representative problem
• reflecting critically on similar problems and the feelings engendered
• thinking in order to gain a new perspective
• modifying and experimenting with behaviours
• applying (transferring) new behaviours to the workplace or other environment
• integrating the new knowledge, attitudes and behaviour

By following the experiential training/learning cycle, the facilitators and participants are guided through
a series of processes that will appeal to the range of learning preferences likely to be found in the
leadership training context, hence increasing the likelihood that learning will take place.

Adapted from Glaser, R. (1990)


Designing and Facilitating Adult Learning, Organisation Design and Development Inc.