David Kolb (1984) developed a theory on experiential learning. He said that learning is more meaningful if it has been done through actual experience. Learning by experience proceeds in four stages which comprises the learning cycle. According to Kolb, the first stage is concrete experience or actually doing something, this is followed by reflective observation wherein the individual reflects on what has been previously done and reviewing it according to its correctness and effectiveness. The next stage in the learning cycle is abstract conceptualization or the process of thinking over the experience and learning from it, after evaluating the experience and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the action or behavior. The last stage of the cycle is active experimentation wherein the individual tries out the learned experience which would lead to better results and mastery. In nursing education, much of the skills required by the profession are concrete behavior rather than abstract thinking or generating ideas. Teaching nurses master skills such as using the blood pressure gauge can be done using the experiential learning cycle.
Theoretical knowledge can be given during classroom instruction and the steps on how to do it can be given as well. Then the students can be asked to actually measure another student’s blood pressure and then giving them time to review and reflect on how they performed and then a critiquing can be done by the teacher to identify the right way of using the apparatus and then have them do it again to test their learning.
Kolb D. (1984). Experiential Learning experience as a source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall