About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Experiential Learning

Michael Hanley has had a great series on Instructional Design. The 13th posting had a model which reminded me a lot of the Kolb Model of experiential learning. So I decided to post here a part of my Dissertation Proposal on Kolb's model:

Kolb’s experiential learning model is one explanation of how individuals might learn from their experience (Kolb, 1984). There are four basic stages to Kolb’s model. In the first stage, concrete experience, an individual experiences some phenomenon, such as a meeting, collaborative process, training, or reading new product material. Kolb also identifies this stage as one of problem finding. During the next two stages, reflective observation and abstract conceptualization, the individual reconstructs the experience internally and develops hypotheses or generalizations that can be used in future situations. In other words, individuals ask questions and look for answers during these two stages. In the final stage, active experimentation, individuals apply their generalizations or hypotheses to diverse contexts, reformulating their generalizations based on the outcomes as they repeat the cycle for each context. The final stage, Kolb also categorized as the portrayal of knowledge, in which concepts are verified, developed in a way to communicate to others, and explored through various contexts and situations so they eventually will be incorporated into new concrete experiences.

Kolb (1984) also distinguished between two types of knowledge: apprehension and comprehension. Apprehensive knowledge is the intuitive process that happens as we experience the world. Apprehensive knowledge makes us aware of what we are experiencing and perceive our world, although it may not have meaning. Comprehensive knowledge is the abstract ideas and understanding we create based on our experience. “Apprehension of experience is a personal subjective process that cannot be known by others except by the communication to them of the comprehensions that we use to describe our immediate experience. Comprehension, on the other hand, is an objective social process, a tool of culture”(p. 105). It is the apprehensive knowledge, communicated through shared concepts, known as concepts or comprehensive knowledge, that companies would like to capture since this is the intangible know-how that an individual brings to a situation. Putting this into the context of Kolb’s model, it is possible that the collaborative writing process helps individuals create a deeper level of apprehensive knowledge through social interaction that requires apprehensive knowledge be transformed to comprehensive knowledge. Transforming personal knowledge that is a result of experience (apprehensive knowledge) into social knowledge requires common symbols, culture, social structures, and images; in other words, comprehensive knowledge. Likewise, comprehensive knowledge is irrelevant without personal knowledge or experience (apprehensive knowledge) to mediate understanding (Kolb). The collaborative writing process may give group members the opportunity to utilize both apprehensive and comprehensive knowledge. If language works as a medium of thought through the use of inner speech, as a mediator of thought through discourse, and as a tool though the generation of thoughts and knowledge systems (Nelson, 1996), in studying collaborative writing, there is a chance to understand the multiple use of language in developing thoughts, apprehensive, and comprehensive knowledge, at the individual and group level.

Kolb, David. Experiential Learning: Experience as a the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood-Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1984.

Nelson, Katherine. Language in Cognitive Development: The Emergence of the Mediated Mind. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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