Investigation 2

Metacognition: How I Think

I have found that I learn best through visual-based lectures, which combine both a visual presentation as well as verbal explanations. I do like reading on my own and attempting to teach myself about various subjects, but I do appreciate being taught about subjects that I do not know about. I am most engaged in my thinking and learning when my environment feels peaceful and relaxing, as well as when I feel bursts of motivation, energy, and productivity towards learning. Also, subjects that are interesting to me definitely engage me more than subjects that do not maintain my attention or interest. However, as discussed in my class, education should focus on making non-interesting subjects more interesting to students and other learners. As I implied earlier, self-efficacy does have a great influence on my learning – namely that I become further encouraged and motivated to keep learning, even if this learning involves tough subjects that I have trouble grasping. To improve my self-regulation – at least with regards to learning – I think a positive attitude and a willingness to think differently or try new things to facilitate the learning process are important keys.

This brings me to the class theme of education and the teaching/learning cycle. I have never heard of the phrase “teaching/learning cycle” before, so I decided to look it up and see what I would find.

The Teaching/Learning Cycle

On Google Images, I found pages of what seemed to be concept maps, flow charts, and webs of the learning process. Each one was different, but eventually, I came across a general model of the teaching/learning cycle:

Teaching and learning cycle

This cycle “map” seems pretty self-explanatory, considering the website I found it on barely had any text to explain it.

Additional browsing through Google Images led me to this learning cycle:

What is most interesting about this “cycle” is that each step is connected to all of the other steps, both around the edges and in the middle. I especially liked the fact that the terms “divergent,” “convergent,” and “assimilative” are included to connect each step. (I’m not entirely sure what “accommodative” refers to. Perhaps to be accomodative to others’ ideas?)

This particular teaching/learning cycle is called the ELC, or the Experiential Learning Cycle. Developed by David Kolbe in 1984 (if you’re interested, here is a PDF of his paper about the ELC), experiental learning is fundamentally different from other learning theories because it’s based on a completely different set of assumptions – namely that learning is not defined by outcomes and that it is a continuous process in which ideas are formed and reformed through experience.  In his work, Kolbe talks about the “banking” concept of education, where:

“Education becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat… the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, storing, and filing the deposits.”

According to Kolbe’s model, learners need four main abilities if they are to be effective learners:

  1. Concrete experience – get fully and openly involved in new experiences without bias (as opposed to theoretical knowledge)
  2. Reflective observation – reflect on and observe your experiences from many perspectives
  3. Abstract conceptualization – create concepts that integrate your observations into logically sound theories (developing general principles based on your experiences and applying known theories to these experiences in the process)
  4. Active experimentation – use your theories to make decisions and solve problems (implement what you came up with by conceptualization in another context)

In the rest of Kolbe’s article, he makes two very important points about learning and knowledge that I thought appropriate to address here:

  • Learning is a process in itself, and it shouldn’t be about outcomes or content.
  • Knowledge isn’t something that can be acquired or transmitted from one person to another. As Kolbe describes it, knowledge is a transformation process where ideas are formed and reformed.

With respect to the class’s theme about education, everything that we have discussed so far about how the education system should be changed, about how divergent thinking is a part of us that is squashed by the system as we progress through school – this theory of experiential learning seems to tie it all together, at least for me. Although the process of learning can be neatly summed up in a little cycle chart, it is important to understand the components of each step, and that the steps themselves are not separate, but represent a continuous flow of ideas.

I think it would be a good idea to come up with the general “steps” of the learning process. Then, at each step, we should address the main points of what a learner should be doing and what a learner is doing on their own and incorporate the two. Learners shouldn’t be squished into molds; we should provide a variety of molds. New ideas about thinking should also be included, such as divergent/lateral thinking, in opposed to straight convergent thinking all the way through.

This idea got me thinking, so I went ahead and tried to come up with my own learning diagram.

First, here is a general learning cycle diagram.

After thinking about what I learned about experiential learning and the guidelines I wrote down in class, I came up with this learning cycle:


The best part about this diagram, I think, is the connecting lines between the reflection step and all of the other steps. If the developed ideas don’t address the question/problem being asked, it is important to go back to the previous steps and think again. I put imagination and innovation in the middle because they are keys to each step.

  1. Back to the question: What’s the question again?
  2. Back to analyzing: What are the important pieces of the question being asked?
  3. Back to conceptualizing: What parts of my ideas fail to address the question? How can I improve my ideas or come up with new ones?
  4. Back to recording: Write down these new ideas!
  5. Back to applying: How can my new ideas be applied to solve the question/problem?

One last thing: a link to an interesting article about experiential learning, and a link to another article about 21st century learning.


“Consistent Teacher Judgment: Teaching Learning Cycle.” New South Wales Department of Education and Training. Web. 1 March 2013.

“Experiential Learning at Anderson Secondary School.” Anderson Secondary School. 2008. Web. 1 March 2013.

Kolb, D.A. “Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development.” Prentice Hall. 1984. Web. 1 March 2013.

Pontis, Sheila. “Information Design Rationale as a Teaching Strategy.” 16 November 2012. Web. 1 March 2013.


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