ESADE researchers unravel a third dimension to Kolb's popular learning method What is your learning style as a manager? Are you an Accommodator, a Converger, a Diverger or an Assimilator? According to David A. Kolb's learning model, there are 4 main ways of learning. The theory shows that being aware of what your style is will help you better adapt to and deal with new challenges.Yet what if David Kolb's learning styles questionnaire has often been wrongly analyzed incorrectly?  New research by ESADE Professor Joan Manuel Batista Foguet reveals what they termed a 'zero type error' -- the ritualistic use of statistical models regardless of the type of data actually available -- in analyzing Kolb's Learning Style questionnaire. To correct this analysis flaw, the researchers propose a new analytical method that confirms and clarifies the existence of a third dimension added to the 2 usual ones used in Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory (KELT), namely: Grasping Knowledge and Transforming Knowledge. The researchers wonder whether this could be the third dimension hypothesized by Kolb when KELT was originally proposed. Published in Frontiers of Psychology, the research involved garnering real data for the last 15 years from ESADE Full-Time MBA graduates, who took part in a Leadership Development program based on Richard Boyatzis' Intentional Change Theory. Data was gathered through a digital platform (based on KELT and designed by Professor Ricard Serlavˇs) as part of the learning process."Kolb's questionnaire forces respondents to prioritize among the 4 alternative learning styles instead of presenting them as 4 independent factors. It is very hard to fill out questionnaires containing forced-choice items. This forced choice questionnaire produces constraints on the information obtained," says Batista Foguet.  Questionnaires that force users to prioritize among alternatives may deliver controversial results. "Our research shows that Kolb's questionnaire has been often analyzed incorrectly and we propose a new methodology to correct this error using compositional data." The new third dimension If the statistical analysis were to be corrected using this new proposed methodology, David Kolb's questionnaire results would benefit from a new third dimension which would help managers deepen the knowledge style of their teams.  According to Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory, people learn through a process that involves a 4-stage learning cycle: Abstract Conceptualization (AC), Concrete Experience (CE), Reflective Observation (RO) and Active Experimentation (AE).      Kolb's 4 learning styles imply that during the learning process, people can only combine up to 2 of the 4 learning stages. That is, Divergers combine Concrete Experience (CE) with Reflective Observation (RO), Assimilators combine Abstract Conceptualization (AC) with Reflective Observation (RO), Convergers combine AC with AE, and Accommodators combine CE with AE. "We show that in fact, people can actually combine more than 2 stages in their learning process -- they can even combine up to 3 or 4," says Batista Foguet.  "Our analysis shows that learners might also combine Abstract Conceptualization (AC) with Concrete Experience (CE), as well as Active Experimentation (AE) with Reflective Observation (RO)." The findings also show the fact that those more flexible learners can quickly adapt and use any of the 4 stages.Graspers versus transformersThe new third dimension also reveals whether one person has a greater tendency to learn by just grasping knowledge or whether this person tends to learn by transforming this information. "Managers with self-awareness prefer transformation -- they are better at transforming knowledge thanks to their pragmatic orientation and emotional intelligence competencies," says Batista Foguet.The findings also confirm that people with self-awareness tend to be better at grasping knowledge through concrete experience rather than through abstract conceptualization. "We hope our findings open the door to more research on what good graspers or good transformers are good at, and shed some light on the potential benefits of using compositional data," concludes Batista Foguet. More information: ESADE Leadership Development Research Center (GLEAD)

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10/2017

ESADE researchers unravel a third dimension to Kolb's popular learning method


What is your learning style as a manager? Are you an Accommodator, a Converger, a Diverger or an Assimilator? According to David A. Kolb's learning model, there are 4 main ways of learning. The theory shows that being aware of what your style is will help you better adapt to and deal with new challenges.

Yet what if David Kolb's learning styles questionnaire has often been wrongly analyzed incorrectly? 

New research by ESADE Professor Joan Manuel Batista Foguet reveals what they termed a 'zero type error' -- the ritualistic use of statistical models regardless of the type of data actually available -- in analyzing Kolb's Learning Style questionnaire. 

To correct this analysis flaw, the researchers propose a new analytical method that confirms and clarifies the existence of a third dimension added to the 2 usual ones used in Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory (KELT), namely: Grasping Knowledge and Transforming Knowledge. The researchers wonder whether this could be the third dimension hypothesized by Kolb when KELT was originally proposed.



Published in Frontiers of Psychology, the research involved garnering real data for the last 15 years from ESADE Full-Time MBA graduates, who took part in a Leadership Development program based on Richard Boyatzis' Intentional Change Theory. Data was gathered through a digital platform (based on KELT and designed by Professor Ricard Serlavˇs) as part of the learning process.

"Kolb's questionnaire forces respondents to prioritize among the 4 alternative learning styles instead of presenting them as 4 independent factors. It is very hard to fill out questionnaires containing forced-choice items. This forced choice questionnaire produces constraints on the information obtained," says Batista Foguet. 

Questionnaires that force users to prioritize among alternatives may deliver controversial results. "Our research shows that Kolb's questionnaire has been often analyzed incorrectly and we propose a new methodology to correct this error using compositional data."


The new third dimension


If the statistical analysis were to be corrected using this new proposed methodology, David Kolb's questionnaire results would benefit from a new third dimension which would help managers deepen the knowledge style of their teams. 

According to Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory, people learn through a process that involves a 4-stage learning cycle: Abstract Conceptualization (AC), Concrete Experience (CE), Reflective Observation (RO) and Active Experimentation (AE).

     

Kolb's 4 learning styles imply that during the learning process, people can only combine up to 2 of the 4 learning stages. That is, Divergers combine Concrete Experience (CE) with Reflective Observation (RO), Assimilators combine Abstract Conceptualization (AC) with Reflective Observation (RO), Convergers combine AC with AE, and Accommodators combine CE with AE. "We show that in fact, people can actually combine more than 2 stages in their learning process -- they can even combine up to 3 or 4," says Batista Foguet.  

"Our analysis shows that learners might also combine Abstract Conceptualization (AC) with Concrete Experience (CE), as well as Active Experimentation (AE) with Reflective Observation (RO)." The findings also show the fact that those more flexible learners can quickly adapt and use any of the 4 stages.

Graspers versus transformers


The new third dimension also reveals whether one person has a greater tendency to learn by just grasping knowledge or whether this person tends to learn by transforming this information. "Managers with self-awareness prefer transformation -- they are better at transforming knowledge thanks to their pragmatic orientation and emotional intelligence competencies," says Batista Foguet.

The findings also confirm that people with self-awareness tend to be better at grasping knowledge through concrete experience rather than through abstract conceptualization. "We hope our findings open the door to more research on what good graspers or good transformers are good at, and shed some light on the potential benefits of using compositional data," concludes Batista Foguet.

More information: ESADE Leadership Development Research Center (GLEAD)

More Knowledge
An alternative approach to analyze ipsative data. Revisiting experiential learning theory
Batista Foguet, Joan M.; Ferrer Rossell, Berta; Serlavˇs Serra, Ricard; Coenders Gallart, GermÓ; Boyatzis, Richard
Frontiers in Psychology
Vol. 6, n║ 1742, 11/2015, p. 575 - 585
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