Looking at Learning Through a New Lens

IMG_0672Last week in CEP 810, we jumped into the Maker movement with both feet.  Our assignment was to develop a lesson tied to our curriculum that incorporated the Maker kit of our choice and an item that we found at the thrift store.  My lesson was the culminating activity for a unit on Constellation Mythology.  My maker project design of creating their own constellation using circuit stickers, cloth and embroidery hoops is one of many different options that students have to develop their own constellation and the accompanying mythology.

This week, I am looking at this project through the lens of a learning theory of my choice.  It was difficult for me to choose a theory.  I have been in education for 25 years and have been through the implementation of a lot of these theories over that time.  I finally chose Experiential Learning Theory and Learning Styles because they are the closest to my core educational belief that the best way to learn is by interacting with learning.  It is also difficult to separate the two as they are intertwined in David Kolb’s model.   As explained by Kolb and Kolb (2008), learning is a spiral.  The learner first has a concrete experience after which she reflects on the experience.  In the course of this reflection, new ideas and concepts develop and the learner develops a new hypothesis.  This process of testing her hypothesis results in a new concrete experience, and the cycle starts over again.  Based on this cycle, Kolb also designed a learning style model based on how learning styleslearners perceive and process knowledge (Lu, Jia, Gong & Clark, 2007).  Based on years of data collection from the Kolb Learning Styles Inventory, nine consistent learning style preferences have been identified (Kolb & Kolb, 2008).  These styles represent how an individual feels most comfortable interacting with the learning process and identifies preferences ranging from group work vs. individual to lecture vs. fieldwork (Lu, et al., 2007).  All of this is part of the creation of a student’s Learning Self-Identity or their personal beliefs about whether or not they are capable of learning.  (Kolb & Kolb, 2008).

As I look through my lesson plan, it seems to be very well aligned to Kolb’s theories of Experiential Learning and Learning Styles.  My building is implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is built around the idea of providing students with multiple means of content representation, multiple means of engaging with content and multiple means of expressing their learning which for all intents and purposes is just another way to say Learning Styles.  My lesson plan is built around this concept.  Students are provided with a variety of ways to have the concrete experience that initiates the learning spiral.  They can read constellation myths and informational books about constellations, interact with physical representations of the stars or watch a demonstration of how to use Google Draw to create their projects.  They can think and reflect in groups or individually, in a highly structured or less structured environments.  Finally, they can represent their learning in a wide variety of ways ranging from pencil and paper to Maker kits to virtual tools.  The lesson as a whole is driven by giving all students a way to develop their Learning Self-Identity in a positive way.  As a whole, my lesson is grounded pretty solidly in the research foundations of Kolb’s theories and should enable my students to learn.

Any feedback on this post or my lesson plan in general is welcome in the comments.

Works Cited

Kolb, A. Y. & Kolb, D. A. (2008). The learning way: Méta-cognitive aspects of experiential learning. Department of Organizational Behavior Working Paper. Case Western Reserve University.

Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R. E., & Mainemelis, C. (2001). Experiential learning theory: Previous research and new directions. Perspectives on thinking, learning, and cognitive styles, 1, 227-247.

Lu, H., Jia, L., Gong, S. H. et. al. (2007). The relationship of Kolb learning styles, online learning behaviors and learning outcomes. Educational Technology and society. 10(4): 187-196.


Forsythe, G. (2013). Kolb’s Experiential Learning CYCLE, Learning Styles & examples: a non-exhaustive perspective. [Online image]. Retrieved November 8, 2014 from https://flic.kr/p/fos2xP Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial -ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.


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