The Experiential Learning Cycle

Experiential Learning Cycle diagram

The experiential learning cycle is a well-known framework for group reflection based on the work of David A. Kolb. It is helpful for a facilitator to notice which of the following three areas are being omitted in a discussion and then ask questions that invite the group to consider the areas that haven’t yet been explore.

What?

  • Describing the situation or events

  • Facts: what happened, what was said, who was involved?

So What?

  • Interpreting the situation or events

  • What are the underlying reasons for what happened?

  • Meaning of the experience for each participant

  • Feelings involved, lessons learned

Now What?

  • Understanding the larger context

  • Reflecting on how to address related issues or systems

  • Applying insights gained to new situations

  • Setting future goals, creating an action plan

Sample Learning Cycle Questions for Discussing Volunteer Experiences

Adapted from Mac Serve Team Leader Training package by Tamara Baldwin

What?

  • What did you do today?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • Who did you meet?

So What?

  • What did you learn today?
  • What surprised you today?
  • What impact did your work have on the placement you went to?
  • What insights have you gained about why your service is needed?

Now What?

  • What actions, if any, will you change because of this experience?
  • In what ways has this experience inspired you to contribute in similar ways in the future?
  • How can you incorporate this experience into your academics?
  • How might these experiences affect your career or life path?
  • What would you do differently in a situation where you heard misinformation being spread about the agency or clients of the agency you worked with today?