At Health[e]Foundation, we believe in circular processes, rather than linear processes. We believe in continuous (re-)development, reflection and action. “What goes around, comes around”.
The theoretical model of David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle is often used by Health[e]Foundation as a backbone of our activities. It is tempting to think of projects in linear processes with a demarcated endpoint that can be checked with a checkmark. In practice, this means a project is finished when all participants have completed their course, received their certificates, and report-writing is done. However, Kolb’s model forces us to stop-and-think, take action and create new things.
Educational theorist David Kolb’s first published his Learning Cycle in 1974. The cycle exists of four distinct learning stages: Experience, Reflective observation, Abstract conceptualization and Active experimentation. In addition to the educational learning model, Kolb described personalities for each part of the circle: “do”, “dream, “think” and “dare”.
There is not one starting-point: you can enter the cycle at any stage and follow it through its logical sequence. However, real effective learning is only the case when a learner passed through all four stages of the model (and continues the journey from there).
With Kolb’s learning cycle, we want to force ourselves to reflect on what we have done, rather than repeating it without further review. In other words: we want to approach what we do into a circular process with no end-point. Not only for the things that did not work out as hoped for, but also for things that went perfectly well. This way, a project or process is never really finished, but re-vitalized and developed to its best potential, and we can actively learn from our faults as well as our successes.
Take for example Health[e]Foundation’s blended-learning approach, in which face-to-face workshops are combined with distance e-learning: face-to-face workshops help to recapitulate and reflect on what you have learned in the self-study period with the e-learning, so do the pre-and post-test that are part of our courses. All our activities are extensively evaluated by participants. With this input, we can reflect on how the course went, and actively use the input from our participants to improve on our work and bring new ideas into reality.
Kolb’s learning cycle also resonates in the composition of the Health[e]Foundation team. Even though we are a small organization, all personalities as described by Kolb are reflected within our team. This way we can focus on what we are good at or most comfortable with, and complement each other.
What cycles can you think of in your own daily work, and would you like to complete the full cycle?