Learning cycles and learning styles: Kolb's experiential learning theory and its application in geography in higher education

Comment from Received
Peter Knight 7 April 2000

Peter Knight, Educational Research, Lancaster University

This is good and interesting and the papers, which I have skimmed and printed for closer reading, are also stimulating.

Could I urge that you consider how to avoid giving the impression that you are following the common practice of emphasising the first few chapters of Kolb's book (which include the infamous diagram) at the expense of the ideas developed once he's dealt with disciplinary differences. I suggest that the last few chapters have considerable value in helping us to think about the integration of subject-specific and general, transferable, key or employability attributes. In my view they're the most important ones. And one point which might need to be explained to your readers: Kolb, like Dewey before him and Rorty after insists that experience is not simply 'doing' or physical experience it's internal as well (and some would say that its this mental experience that is the most important even Piaget can be read that way).

Good luck. I look forward to hearing more and to seeing how you manage to do what few achieve, which is to represent the pragmatists and Kolb in the ways they say they want their ideas understood.

You might want to see how Kolb has worked his ideas out in a MBA programme. The book is excellent, a model of serious curriculum development. Boyatzis, R.E. and associates [Kolb is one of them] (1995) Innovation in Professional Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Peter Knight
Department of Educational Research, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1524 65201 x 92894; Fax: +44 (0)1524 592914; Email:

PS Having now read your papers more closely, I think you might benefit from getting hold of the excellent Grasha, A.F. (1996) Teaching with Style Pittsburgh PA: Alliance Publishers. (Details about this book, including information about ordering, can be found at the Alliance Publishers Web pages

Return to Discussion Papers

Page last updated 8 May 2000
GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock