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John Dewy and David Kolb’s Learning Theory Essay Sample Ireland

The following essay sample work shall highlight David Kolb’s experimental model learning theory, criticism of the experimental learning theory of Kolb, and John Dewy’s education learning theory. We will first start with David Kolb and his learning theory.

David Kolb is an American psychologist and an educational theorist who published his work on experimental learning. He believed that people learn from an experience which is known as an experimental learning process. His theory of learning was influenced by other theorists like John Dewy, Jean Piaget, and Kurt Lewin.


He believed that learning occurs as a result of combining education, knowledge, and experience. This theory has a holistic approach toward the emotions, factors of environment, experience, learning process, cognition, etc. While the cognitive behavior theories focus on the mental processes and ignore the learning process of an individual.

Experimental Learning Theory of Kolb

In the experimental learning theory of Kolb, he describes two methods of experiencing through a concrete experience and abstract conceptualization. He identifies these experiences which can be transformed into learning through active experimentation and reflective observation.

  • Concrete experience means a new situation or an experience that has been faced or a reinterpretation of an existing experience.
  • Reflective observation is the reflective thoughts while making an observation of an act of learning to gain knowledge and experience.
  • Abstract conceptualization is the new ideas that arise after the reflection or modification of an abstract concept which is learned through an experience.
  • Active experimentation is when the learner applies such ideas actively to their practical world.

These models of learning are known as the four cycles of learning where the concrete experience provides information for reflection and from this reflection forms abstract ideas of the information.

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After gathering information with the help of experience can cycle back to the beginning of the process. One can choose his learning method according to the specific situation and may not necessarily begin with an experience.

For example

A person who wants to learn swimming. He can learn the act of swimming first through a reflective observation by observing others how they swim.

Another person can learn the act of swimming by reading and analyzing a book on swimming and by following the guidelines and instructions.

Third person can swim along with his guide to learn swimming by taking a test course on swimming and practice.

Different people have different learning styles and they have to choose that learning mode that suits them the most. Preferences of the people play a major role where the ‘watchers’ prefer reflective observation while those who are trying to engage themselves in the active experimentation.

The person prefers a way of the act on the basis of his past experiences, environmental factors, demands, and things aiding the learning process. These preferences of the people serve as learning styles and each of the styles teaches different learning abilities.

The preference of learning style depends upon the job role, choice of career, education, personality, and current role in the job.

Kolb’s experimental learning theory shows that the students make choices for college majors and professions. Their choice of learning style is in alignment with the choice of their professional field.

The experimental learning method helps people to learn about their strengths and weaknesses while they’re exploring, experimenting, and learning about new things. They can work upon their weaknesses to develop them into their strengths.

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Criticism of Experimental Learning Theory of Kolb 

  • This experimental learning theory does not focus on the non-reflective experience which plays an important role in the learning process.
  • It focuses mainly on individual learning and not on social learning groups and such a process of learning may not even remain stable every time.
  • Critics state that only individuals above 65 years of age are more observant and reflective in nature and this learning theory is very limited and restricted.

John Dewy’s Theory of Learning 

John Dewy was an American influencer, philosopher, social reformer, and educator who was the leader of the progressive movement in education in the US.

He focused on functional philosophy and pragmatism. He was one of the most popular education reformers who brought major changes in teaching and learning.

He believed that people learn the best through the practical execution of acts. From an educational point of view, John Dewy believed that learners must adapt to the environment to learn. They must experience reality as it is being presented to them.

John Dewy’s Education Theory shows that his ideas on education are very similar to the ideas of democracy and the classroom. He believed in the collective experience of students and teachers which can yield extra value.

He rejected the behaviorism theory as he found it very simple and he felt that learning is a complex process that can only be achieved by interacting with the environment. He rejected the theory that children are passive learners and when given learning opportunities can become active learners.

His theory is a child-centered approach to education that places focus on the needs and interests of the child. He believed that child can learn from his environment.

This theory also focuses on the interdisciplinary curriculum where all the different subjects need to be connected. Students can freely move in and out of the classrooms and can develop their own skills where the teacher acts not as an educator but as a facilitator.

In traditional education, the focus is on the heritage and curriculum, and in progressive education, the focus is on the interests of the learners.

According to John Dewy educational experience is a result of two fundamental principles of continuity and interaction.

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The above essay sample mentions the learning and education theory of John Dewy and David Kolb.

Introduction to Philosophy QQI Level 5, Psychology QQI Level 5, Training and Development QQI Level 5, Child Psychology QQI Level 5 students can benefit from reading such essay samples on learning and education to enhance their knowledge.

We have many assignments on learning and psychology on our website. Some of the assignments that can be referred by the Irish students are Primary Teaching in Ireland, Extinction Psychology Theory, etc.

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