Games as Instructional Technology III: Kolb’s Learning Styles

Kolb’s Learning Style Model

To be successful, games must appeal to different types of learning styles. There are  various learning styles, among them Kolb’s Learning Styles. This model classifies students as either preferring concrete experience or abstract conceptualization (how they take information in), or active experimentation or reflective observation (how they internalize information). The four types of learners are

· Abstract, active: This learner asks “how?” and responds to having opportunities to work actively on well-defined tasks and to learn by trial-and-error. To be effective, the instructor should function as a coach, providing guided practice and feedback.

· Concrete, reflective: This learner asks “why?” and responds well to explanations of how course material relates to his or her experience and interests. The effective instructor should act as a motivator.

· Abstract, reflective: This learner asks “what?” learns best by having information presented in an organized, logical fashion and benefit if they have time for reflection. To be successful, the instructor should function as an expert.

· Concrete, active: This learner asks “what if?” and prefers applying material in new situations to solve real problems and discovering on his or her own.

There are a variety of ways that games provide interactive learning: practice and feedback(sometimes referred to as ‘drill and kill’), learning by doing, discovery learning/”guided discovery,” learning from mistakes, goal-oriented learning, task-based learning, question-led learning, role playing, and coaching (2001, p. 157). If one examines these activities, along with the learning styles, other ways games support the learner types in Kolb’s model can be derived.

  • Practice and feedback: Abstract, active
  • Learning by doing: Abstract, active; Concrete, active; Abstract, reflective; Concrete, reflective
  • Discovery learning: Abstract, active; Concrete, active
  • Learning from mistakes: Abstract, active; Concrete, active; Abstract, reflective
  • Goal-oriented learning: Abstract, active, Concrete, active, Abstract, reflective, Concrete, reflective
  • Task-based learning: Concrete, reflective; Abstract, reflective; Abstract, active
  • Question-led learning: Abstract, reflective, Concrete active
  • Role playing: Abstract, active; Concrete, active; Abstract, reflective; Concrete, reflective
  • Coaching: Abstract, active; Abstract, reflective; Concrete, reflective
  • Reacting to immediate situations: concrete, active
  • Applying ideas: abstract, active
  • Utilizing previously acquired knowledge and skills to move to higher levels: Concrete, active
  • Motivating learners to take charge of learning: Concrete, reflective
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