The Unintentional Trainer’s Guide to The Learning Cycle

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The Learning Cycle is key to being able to develop an effective session. It helps you ensure you provide all the components of learning to ensure success.

By far the most well known models is David A. Kolb’s 1984 model on Experiential Learning so this is what we’ll focus on as it’s the one most people refer too when they are talking about Learning Cycles.

Kolb held the view that the process of learning can begin at any one point on the cycle and that it should be viewed as a continuous cycle. However, many people hold the view that learners will most commonly begin the cycle at the concrete experience stage.

Kol's Learning Cycle

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What does this mean for us?

When we are developing learning interventions, to ensure they are as effective and impactful as possible, we should build in opportunities for learners to move through the learning cycle. Essentially, this means that each learning intervention should consist of:

• an activity or experience
• an opportunity to think about the activity or experience
• a chance to consider how this fits with other things the learner already knows
• a chance to plan how the same activity would be tackled again in the future.

With careful planning and consideration, these elements can be incorporated relatively easily into any learning intervention whether it is on-job or classroom based.



Founder of Zostera Ltd and The Trainers CPD Club. I've worked in L&D for over 16 years across both the public and private sectors.

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