Academic Engagement

We use these theories and models to help students navigate the learning process; reflect on their morals, ethics, and critical thinking skills; and use reflection to guide their future endeavors. To explore courses and workshops, learning resources, disability resources and academic awards and honors, click here.

Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory

David KolbKolb's Experiential Learning Theory

States that effective learning is an integrative process and transformation happens while progressing through four stages of the learning cycle: concrete experience (feeling), reflective observation (watching), abstract conceptualization (thinking), and active experimentation (doing). One can determine the stage in which they prefer to enter the learning cycle by completing the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (LSI).

  • Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Kolb, D. A. (1976). The Learning Styles Inventory: Technical manual. Boston, MA: McBer and Company.
Did you know? David Kolb, PhD, is a professor emeritus of organizational behavior in the Weatherhead School of Management. Read more at >
Perry's Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development

Describes stages of intellectual and moral development:

  1. Relying on authorities for answers
  2. Understanding that authorities have differing opinions
  3. Believing that all views are valuable
  4. Understanding that answers vary based on individual situations
  5. Recognizing that some views are more valid than others
  6. Realizing the need to take responsibility for making decisions
  7. Committing to respecting the opinions of others, remaining open minded to new perspectives, and consistently using personal values to guide decisions
  • Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A scheme. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
  • Perry, W. J. (1997). Cognitive and Ethical Growth: The Making of Meaning. In K. D. Arnold Jr. & I. Carreiro King (Authors), College student development and academic life: Psychological, intellectual, social, and moral issues (pp. 76-89). New York: Garland Publishing.
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development

Describes the stages of knowledge development and application and explains how a person's understanding impacts their previous perceptions as well as other aspects of their life (e.g., language).

  • Piaget, J. (1932). The moral judgment of the child. London, England: Routledge.
Reflective Judgment Model

Based on intellectual development theory, this model describes seven stages for developing critical thinking and sound judgment through reflection.

  • King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescents and adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Social Cognitive Theory

Social Cognitive Theory

Examines factors that influence individual behavior and lead to behavioral change. Suggests that these factors include the environment, observations of others' behaviors and subsequent outcomes, personal characteristics (i.e., values), and abilities (i.e., thinking ahead, planning, reflection, regulating one's behavior, and attaching meaning to events through the use of symbols).

  • Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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