This blog is part of a series. Have you read part one: ‘Learning Styles 101: The Vark Model’?

David A.Kolb’s groundbreaking work, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, was published in 1984 – but its effects are still felt today.

The concept of learning through discovery and experience is still employed in education on a broad scale, particularly in terms of business studies: the popular 70/20/10 model, for instance, is founded on the principle that 70% of what we know comes from experience; and ‘trial-and-error’ based exercises – such as Crowdfund Campus’s own Sandpit platform – provide effective tools through which young entrepreneurs can test and refine their enterprise ideas.

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) is named as such to emphasise the important role that experience plays in the learning process. Indeed, Professor Kolb argues that ‘knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience’ (Kolb, 1984, p.41). In Experiential Learning, Kolb sets out four different learning styles, all of which are connected: a continuous learning cycle of experience, reflection, conceptualisation and experimentation.

The cycle, broadly, is as follows:

  1. Concrete Experience (CE)
  2. Reflective Observation (RO)
  3. Abstract Conceptualization (AC)
  4. Active Experimentation (AE)

This cycle is connected to four different learning styles, each of which represents a combination of different stages of the learning process:

Diverging (CE/RO)

Those with a Diverging learning preference tend to be open-minded, sensitive, emotional, and artistic. They prefer to observe and reflect, taking all perspectives into account, and use their imagination to create solutions to problems.

Engagement tactics: Diverging learners are excellent at ideas-generation and enjoy teamwork and brainstorming. As such, a combination of one-on-one feedback sessions and group discussion should be promoted within the classroom. Diverging learners prefer to receive personal feedback that they can then digest and reflect on in solitude, but – in terms of everyday learning – they perform best when working as part of a group.

Assimilating (AC/RO)

For Assimilating learners, ideas and logic take precedence over person-to-person interactions. Good, clear explanations – rather than hands-on opportunities – are preferred; as are abstract concepts and complex, established theories. These learners excel at organising ideas and information, work in a logical, highly-focused manner, and often show an interest in science or mathematics.

Engagement tactics: Readings and lectures are preferable to class discussion. In terms of learning aids, Assimilating learners find analytical models helpful and stimulating, though they will respond best when given time to think things through – rather than being asked to make quick or instinctive decisions.

Converging (AC/AE)

Similar to Assimilating learners, students who prefer a Converging learning style are less concerned with interpersonal relationships in the classroom: instead, they prefer technical tasks and tend to draw on practical knowledge throughout the learning process. As such, they are problem solvers rather than idea generators, and enjoy making decisions by applying technical or real-life knowledge to abstract issues.

Engagement tactics: Create room for experimentation within the working environment by making use of business games and simulations (like Crowdfund Campus’ Sandpit tool). This approach will allow Converging learners to build on real-life experiences and make the most of their technical abilities.

Accommodating (CE/AE)

Often referred to as a ‘hands-on’ approach, Accommodating learners rely on their intuition and interactions with other people in order to develop their thinking. They thrive on challenges and love to experiment, but prefer for there to be a plan in place first; they are doers, rather than planners, and without a strategy will rely on instinct.

Engagement tactics: Teamwork and targets are a must for the Accommodating learner, so teachers should be prepared to cater for this. A crowdfunding exercise may prove to be the perfect solution, particularly within an enterprise education setting: by using a live platform like that provided by Crowdfund Campus, students are given the opportunity to create cohesive, comprehensive campaigns, working as a team to meet their goals and raise awareness of their product/service. An Accommodating learner would fit perfectly into this environment, which would stimulate their desire to rise to challenges, experiment with different approaches in order to meet an objective, and work within a group.

We are proud to offer support to students and universities who wish to ‘think outside the box’ and embrace different ways of learning. If you’d like to find out more about our offering, please send an email to – or take a look at our innovative Sandpit tool for further insight. We hope to hear from you!