Learning & the Brain – Taylor & Lamoreaux (adult learning, Kolb’s model)

Kathleen Taylor and Annalee Lamoreaux, both of Saint Mary’s College of Education, California, facilitated Teaching with the Adult Brain in Mind. This session was part of the adult brain and learning tract, a first-time tract for, and one of the two main reasons I was determined to attend, the conference. Indeed, this is what I’d like to study in the Learning and Teaching master’s program at Harvard!

This was very much an interactive ninety-minutes during which I was exposed to a number of adult learning models. Since they were all new to me, I will start at the beginning by describing the models.


Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning is based on theories by people with names that are more familiar to me, Piaget and Dewey. David Kolb is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University and a partner in Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc. His model, pictured below and which I made with Inspiration, consists of four stages, any of which may be the starting point for learning through experience.

Typically, though not always, in learning something you might begin with the actual concrete experience. This is described as the “feeling” portion of the learning process, and is naturally followed by reflective observation, a time to rethink through what you have done and how you feel about it. Based upon your reflections, you are then ready to make some abstract conceptualizations about the process, for instance, How does this relate to other areas? and What can you conclude about this process? Working out your responses to these questions will lead you to active experimentation and the testing of hypotheses, which in turn leads to another actual experience. Thus, the stages are cyclical, and since learning is rarely so neat and tidy, it is likely that you jump into learning from any of the stages.

You can learn more about Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning at any of the following sites.

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