The key difference between Kolb and Gibbs reflective cycle is their stages. Kolb’s reflective cycle has four stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Gibbs’ reflective cycle has six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan
Kolb reflective cycle and Gibbs reflective cycle are used in learning situations. Gibbs’cycle, also known as the iterative model, is an expansion of Kolb’s cycle, which is known as the experiential learning model. David Kolb introduced Kolb reflective cycle for educators to review their teaching and for continuous development. Graham Gibbs created the Gibbs reflective cycle to provide structure to learning from experiences.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Kolb Reflective Cycle
3. What is Gibbs Reflective Cycle
4. Kolb vs Gibbs Reflective Cycle in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Kolb and Gibbs Reflective Cycle
What is Kolb’s Reflective Cycle?
Kolb’s reflective cycle is a model that highlights the importance of the reflective component in an experiential learning cycle based on four stages. David Kolb published this reflective cycle in 1984. This is also known as experimental learning. This theory is mainly focused on the learner’s cognitive process. There are two sections in this: a four-stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles.
Section 1: Cycle of Learning
- Concrete experience – having an experience or doing something; also, reinterpretation of existing experience
- Reflective observation – reflecting on the experience
- Abstract conceptualization – learning from the experience, learning new ideas or modifications of the experience
- Active experimentation – planning based on what was learned and seeing what happens
Section 2: Learning Styles
- Diverging – look at things from different perspectives – emotional, imaginative, interested in culture and people, like to collect information, prefer to work in groups and open-minded
- Assimilating – like in abstract concepts and ideas, reading, lectures and theories
- Converging – like solving problems, applying theories learned in solving practical problems, and experimenting with new ideas and like technology
- Accommodating – like new experiences and challenges and relies on intuition than logic.
What is Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle?
Gibbs’ reflective cycle provides a structure to learning from experiences. This was improved by Graham Gibbs in 1988. He included this in his book “Learning By Doing”.
This reflective cycle has a framework for examining experiences, especially those that people experience regularly, and helps to allow people to learn and plan things from these experiences that either went well or didn’t go well. Because of this, people understand what they could do well in the future as well. This is a way of showing people to learn from their situations.
Gibbs’ reflective cycle has six stages. They are description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan. Below mentioned are these six stages, including some questions that help people to understand the situation well.
Description of the experience
- When and where did this happen?
- Why was I there?
- Who else was there?
- What happened?
- What did I do?
- What did other people do?
- What was the result of this situation?
Feelings and thoughts about the experience
- What did I feel before this situation took place?
- What did I feel while this situation took place?
- What did I feel after the situation?
- What do I think about the situation now?
Evaluation of the experience, both good and bad
- What was positive about this situation?
- What was negative?
- What went well?
- What didn’t go so well?
Analysis to make sense of the situation
- Why did things go well?
- Why didn’t it go well?
- What sense can I make of the situation?
- What knowledge, my own or others can help me understand the situation?
Conclusion about what a person learned and what he could have done differently
- How could this have been a more positive experience for everyone involved?
- If I were faced with the same situation again, what would I do differently?
- What skills do I need to develop to handle this type of situation better?
Action plan for how a person would deal with similar situations in the future, or general changes that he might find suitable
- If I had to do the same thing again, what would I do differently?
- How will I develop the required skills?
What is the Difference Between Kolb and Gibbs Reflective Cycle?
Kolb’s reflective cycle is a model that highlights the importance of the reflective component in the experiential learning cycle, while Gibbs’ reflective cycle provides a structure to learning from experiences. Kolb’s reflective cycle has four stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. Gibbs’ reflective cycle has six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan. So, this is the key difference between Kolb and Gibbs reflective cycle.
The below infographic lists the differences between Kolb and Gibbs reflective cycle in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Kolb vs Gibbs Reflective Cycle
Kolb’s reflective cycle is a model that helps to structure a piece of reflective writing. There are two sections to the cycle: a four-stage cycle of learning and four separate learning styles. Gibbs’ reflective cycle, on the other hand, provides a structure to learning from experiences. It was a further improvement of Kolb’s reflective cycle. This cycle has six stages named description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between Kolb and Gibbs reflective cycle.
1. “Reflective Model According to Kolb.” Dr Nicole Brown, 26 Dec. 2017.
2. “Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.” The University of Edinburgh, 11 Nov. 1970.
1. “The Four Steps in Kolb Cycle” By Izhaki – In OmniGraffle (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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