Kolb’s reflective model is referred to as “experiential learning”. The basis for this model is our own experience, which is then reviewed, analysed and evaluated systematically in three stages. Once this process has been undergone completely, the new experiences will form the starting point for another cycle.
You consciously and physically experience a situation, which makes you realise that you need to reflect systematically in order to learn something new or improve on your existing skill and practice. At this stage you will make a note of the specific situation and just describe what you see, how you feel and what you think.
Having written down the description of the experience, it is now time to reflect more deeply on what has happened in that situation. The questions you need to ask yourself are: what worked? what failed? why did the situation arise? why did others and I behave the way we did?
The guiding question for this stage leads on from the questions in the reflective observation stage: what could I have done better or differently? how can I improve? Initially, you try to find different ways for dealing with the situations and think up strategies for when you experience a similar situation again. Also, this is the stage where you should consult colleagues and literature in order to get a better understanding and further ideas.
This stage is now practising the newly acquired theoretical knowledge. You take your own reflections and thoughts about improvements as well as the theories back into your practice and try out the new strategies. Some of them will work, others won’t, so this is then automatically the basis for the new cycle. As the experiences within the active experimentation stage become the new “concrete experiences”.
Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.