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“Oh, was that ‘experiential learning’?!” Spaces, Synergies and Surprises with Kolb’s Learning Cycle

Tomkins, Leah and Ulus, Eda (2016). “Oh, was that ‘experiential learning’?!” Spaces, Synergies and Surprises with Kolb’s Learning Cycle. Management Learning, 47(2) pp. 158–178.

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We share findings from empirical research into Kolb’s experiential learning (EL) approach, using our reflections as teachers and data from our undergraduate management students. The EL experience emerges as a space where bodies, feelings and ideas move and develop in intimate relationship with one another. This is a space where teachers exercise authority over, and commitment to, the here-and-now, risking corporeal and intellectual exposure. We probe the concept of experience in EL, suggesting that teachers require a kind of ‘experiential expertise’ to draw both on embodied felt sense and on what one has done in one’s own career to role-model the transformation of experience into knowledge, which is at the heart of Kolb’s theory. We explore a blurring of experiential agency, and the tendency for students to appropriate the teacher’s experience rather than dwell on or develop their own. For us, EL is more usefully seen as ‘relationship-centred’ than ‘student-centred’, and we contrast this relational focus with the way EL seems to have been popularised as anti-interventionist, a kind of educational ‘laissez-faire’. Based on these reflections, we suggest powerful connections between phenomenology and theories of space as a way of conceptualising the complexities and richness of teaching and learning experiences.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2015 The Authors
ISSN: 1461-7307
Keywords: embodiment; experiential learning; feelings; phenomenology; space
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for People and Organisations
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 44516
Depositing User: Leah Tomkins
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2015 08:09
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2019 16:22
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