The “Getting Unstuck” Learning Cycle

Today’s post (“How to get unstuck“) from Indexed looks vaguely familiar. For those of you who may know about the Kolb Cycle, do you see any resemblance?

Image & Tutorial from University of Leeds

We use the Kolb Cycle as a conceptual framework in our PLA program (as most PLA programs do) to help students identify experiences that they have learned from. As Boud, Keogh, and Walker (1985)  indicated, reflection is the process by which experience is turned into learning. Thus, the cycle can be a handy framework.

But now,  we may think about using the “Unstuck” Cycle as well, as I imagine that many folks who are reflecting on their learning-from-experience might start with “here is something that frustrated me, and here is how I went about dealing with it, and here’s what that means in terms of a theoretical approach to dealing with similar situations.” I would thus add to “Evaluation” a discussion of the theoretical and analytical aspects — that is, answering Why? What is the resulting or operating theory?


  • Frustration: Members in my work team were not participating effectively in our team meetings.
  • Imagination: I thought that maybe in our next meeting, we could back up and identify some norms and expectations for our meeting times.
  • Experimentation: I called the next meeting with this as the sole item on the agenda, and people agreed to come and participate.
  • Implementation: We had the meeting, and I asked people to brainstorm how they thought the members of the team should communicate in meeting times together. We brainstormed answers to the question “What guidelines do we want to operate by in our meetings?” We identified guidelines like “listening while others are talking” and “asking a question instead of offering a criticism.”
  • Observation: In our next meeting, we only had one incidence of someone on the team talking over someone else. At the end of the meeting we reflected together about how it went, and we all agreed that we communicated better now that we had these explicit expectations and guidelines.
  • Evaluation: In general, establishing norms and expectations for member participation will improve communications in team settings. (And then we would ask “In general, why? In general, what can happen if norms and expectations are not established by the team? What is the operating theory here?” Etc.)
  • Oh no! A New Frustration: We had a new member join our group who didn’t know about our guidelines, so now we need to get that person on board.
  • Imagination: How should we do that? Why?

Rinse and repeat.

Boud, D., Keogh, R., & Walker, D. (Eds.) (1985). Reflection: Turning experience into learning. London: Kogan Page.


One thought on “The “Getting Unstuck” Learning Cycle

  1. Pingback: Good News For The Cat « PrattleNog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s