Kolb's experiential learning model: Critique from a modelling perspective

Harald Bergsteiner, Gayle C. Avery, Ruth Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Kolb's experiential learning theory has been widely influential in adult learning. The theory and associated instruments continue to be criticized, but rarely is the graphical model itself examined. This is significant because models can aid scientific understanding and progress, as well as theory development and research. Applying accepted modelling and categorization criteria to Kolb's basic model reveals fundamental graphic syntax errors, a failure to meet modellers' graphic sufficiency and simplification tests, categorization and definitional problems relating to learning activities and typologies, misconstrued bi-polarities and flawed logic. We propose guidelines for recasting the model with a view to overcoming these weaknesses, guiding future research and theory development, and starting to integrate the disparate field of experiential learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in Continuing Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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