Kolb’s Cycle


This article was purposed primarily as a tool for educators who have had little to no experience conducting workshops, or have used other methodologies during their workshop. SmileUrbo’s workshops and methodologies were designed with Kolb’s cycle in mind.

What is Kolb’s Cycle?

David Kolb published his learning style cycle in order to show that learning involves applying learned abstract concepts to any range of situations. Kolb’s cycle is most concerned with an individual’s internal cognitive processes.

Kolb’s theory involves a four-step cycle:
Concrete Experience – Encountering a new experience.
Reflective Observation – Reviewing / reflecting on said experience.
Abstract Conceptualization – Concluding / learning from experience.
Active Experimentation – Practical application to new situations.

Where to Start?

Kolb’s Cycle only permits an individual to follow the four-step cycle in chronological order- one cannot reflect or conceptualize without an experience. Beginning with a concrete experience specifically in SmileUrbo, will replace any doubts players may feel about participating, and replace them with motivation. Educators should take advantage of the energy trainees may feel after each round and transform it to guide participants in the deeper learning process.

Stages of the Cycle (a step-by-step)

Concrete Experience

The best way to begin SmileUrbo is instructed in the guidelines of the Educator Guide, Part 1, Section 1: “Introduction to the game” and part 2: “What to do during the game.” Ensure that participants understand their roles, know their responsibilities, and are free from distraction. Therefore, the main duty of the educator is to create a space in which participants feel they can freely use the simulated reality.

An important issue during SmileUrbo is the role of the coach during the game. The educator should keep in mind that the more natural the progression of events, the better. An important component that preserves the progression of the game is the commitment and acceptance of the participants’ individual roles. They must feel that they made their decisions as a group, independently without the aid of the educator. This will increase and encourage player participation. The coach can use this time to instead record the experience and progression of events, all information that is necessary for the next phase- the reflection.

[NOTE] The educator’s role is more so to become a Facilitator (more on that role in the Educator’s Guide). It is important to provide a sense of security for participants during the game.

1. Make sure that participants understand the instructions received.
2. Make sure to create the best (as close as possible to ‘natural’) conditions.
3. Treat the game as a testing ground – allow participants to make mistakes, do not help them, however do not criticize either.
4. Motivate people who are less active and attempt to maintain high level of energy in the group.

[NOTE] Errors committed by participants in the virtual game world can be transformed into their success in the real world. Do not intervene when they encounter a hurdle- instead use this situation as an example during the reflection period.

Reflective Observation

The reflection step is more clearly detailed in the Educator’s Guide. Whenever a section about guiding players out of simulation, or “Reflections and feedback”, is highlighted in the Guide, you have reached the next stage in the Kolb´s cycle.

Guiding participants out of simulation is an essential element of the use of SmileUrbo. In order for participants to be able to make a practical assessment and evaluation of the game, it is necessary for them to feel disconnected to their game role feel from emotion.

The role of the coach comes down primarily to support participants’ work through their experience. Hence, the basic form of a workshop at this stage will be a moderated discussion.

Some questions that may be useful at this stage:
– How did you feel playing your role? Did you identify with them?
– Do you feel that you managed to effectively communicate with other players?
– Are you satisfied with the decision you have taken as a member of the Council?
– Was it difficult for you to make decisions? If so, which ones were the hardest to make?
– Was there a turning point that changed the course of the game?
– What have you achieved?
– If you sit down to same game with your current knowledge, what would you change about your approach if anything?

Abstract Conceptualization

After reflecting on the game, mistakes and achievements alike, the educator should begin to introduce theory. This step will run depending on the topics and issues covered during the workshop. You will find in the Guide alternative methods to lectures when it comes to implementing the knowledge module. You will find specific exercises and techniques to help participants understand the functioning of social systems and the viewpoint of an opposition. The theory does not necessarily have to be passed by the teacher. Sometimes issues are intuitive and the participants themselves discover pieces of the puzzle and place them in the right place.

Active Experimentation

Remember that the issues raised by you in this section have been associated with the experience of the participants. At this stage, participants should combine together the facts and try to fit another puzzle. Each framed piece of the puzzle will motivate the group to continue working. The final element of the puzzle is to show how you have acquired the knowledge and skills to use in practice.

– What will new skill / technique give you?
– How can you apply your new skills?
– How can this new knowledge help you in your work?

In addition, it is worth noting that the Kolb’s cycle does not finish once the game is over. Therefore, be sure to plan further development work. Kolb’s cycle is reusable in any situation. If you’ve just finished the first round, for example, you should announce when you will begin round 2 to ensure sure participants are actively engaging and thinking about how they can improve the next round.

Some questions that may be useful at this stage:
– What will you pay more attention during next round?
– What can you do better?
– What you would like to learn the next day?
– Where outside of the game, can you use this knowledge?