Reflective thinking and writing

How to think reflectively

Kolb's Learning Cycle

Kolb's Learning Cycle (1984) has four elements of a loop which you can start at any point, though normally you start with an experience:

Kolbs Learning Cycle
Figure 1: Kolb's Learning Cycle


The four elements of Kolb's Learning Cycle

  • Experience -doing it
  • Observations and reflections- reviewing and reflecting on the experience
  • Development of ideas- learning from the experience
  • Testing ideas in practice- planning, trying out what you have learned

Example of using Kolb's Learning Cycle

  • Experience
    You give a 5 minute presentation in class and received low marks for presentation style.
  • Observations and reflections
    You over ran the 5 minutes and kept forgetting what you wanted to say.
  • Development of ideas
    You spoke to your lecturer and the Learning Skills tutor to get some advice on presentation techniques. You noted down some ideas on how to prepare differently next time.
  • Testing ideas in practice
    You prepared your presentation in advance. You had some notes to refer to. You practiced delivering your presentation within 5 minutes.