In the article, “The Learning Way: Meta-cognitive Aspects of Experiential Learning”, Kolb and Kolb (2009) discuss the various models of experiential learning, with a special emphasis on the works of William James, his contributions to experiential learning, and metacognition. According to the Experiential Learning theory (ELT), one can alter their ways of learning by consciously experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting. Research on ELT has been highly interdisciplinary.
ELT defines learning as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience”.
The ELT model portrays two dialectically related modes of grasping experience Concrete Experience (CE) and Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and two dialectically related modes of transforming experience Reflective Observation (RO) and Active Experimentation (AE). Experiential learning is a process of constructing knowledge that involves a creative tension among the four learning modes.
The implication of the philosophy of radical empiricism proposed by William James for ELT and the experiential learning cycle is that it is not only the Concrete Experience mode of learning that is experiential; all modes of the learning cycle are included in the experience.
Both modes of grasping experience CE and AC and both modes of transforming experience – RO and AE are part of the experiential learning process. This happens on both an objective level and a meta cognitive level. On the meta cognitive level, it could further be informed by meta cognitive knowledge, meta cognitive experience, goals, and strategies.
Using a model based on experiential learning theory, learners can better understand the learning process, themselves as learners and the appropriate use of learning strategies based on the learning task and environment. The key concepts of ELT are learning self identity, the spiral learning process, learning style, learning space and learning flexibility. Meta-cognitive strategies can be used to create and enhance each of these concepts.
1. Trust the process of learning from experience.
• Trust your experience.
• Trust the learning process.
2. Redefine your relationship to failure.
• Control emotional responses to learn from failure.
• Risk losing.
3. Reassess your beliefs about how you learn and what you are good at.
• Monitor the messages you send yourself.
• Balance your success/failure accounts.
The spiral of the learning process
1. Practice makes perfect.
2. Time framing.
3. Self-making and the development of interest.
1. Developing the capacity for experiencing.
2. Developing the capacity for reflecting.
3. Developing the capacity for thinking.
4. Developing the capacity for action.
1. Customizing learning spaces.
2. Learning flexibility and learning space locomotion
The learning about learning cycle requires a longer time perspective and reflection on previous learning experiences and their fit with the meta-cognitive normative learning model. Learners can chart their path on the learning way by developing their meta-cognitive learning capacities and educators can pave the way by placing learning about learning on the agenda of their educational programs.