Experiential learning

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Experiential learning is the process of making meaning from direct experience.[1] Simply put, Experiential Learning is learning from experience. The experience can be staged or left open. Aristotle once said, "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."[2] David A. Kolb helped to popularize the idea of experiential learning drawing heavily on the work of John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Jean Piaget. His work on experiential learning has contributed greatly to expanding the philosophy of experiential education. Staged experiential learning is often called a Dynamic Learning Experience (DLE) in certain high hazard industries.



[edit] Overview

Experiential learning is learning through reflection on doing, which is often contrasted with rote or didactic learning. Experiential learning is related to, but not synonymous with, experiential education, action learning, adventure learning, free choice learning, cooperative learning, and service learning. While there are relationships and connections between all these theories of education, importantly they are also separate terms with separate meanings.[3]

Experiential learning focuses on the learning process for the individual (unlike experiential education, which focuses on the transactive process between teacher and learner). An example of experiential learning is going to the zoo and learning through observation and interaction with the zoo environment, as opposed to reading about animals from a book. Thus, one makes discoveries and experiments with knowledge firsthand, instead of hearing or reading about others' experiences.

Experiential learning requires no teacher and relates solely to the meaning making process of the individual's direct experience. However, though the gaining of knowledge is an inherent process that occurs naturally, for a genuine learning experience to occur, there must exist certain elements. According to David A. Kolb, an American educational theorist, knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences.[4] He states that in order to gain genuine knowledge from an experience, certain abilities are required:

  1. the learner must be willing to be actively involved in the experience;
  2. the learner must be able to reflect on the experience;
  3. the learner must possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience; and
  4. the learner must possess decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience.

[edit] Implementation

Experiential learning can be a highly effective educational method. It engages the learner at a more personal level by addressing the needs and wants of the individual. Experiential learning requires qualities such as self-initiative and self-evaluation. For experiential learning to be truly effective, it should employ the whole learning wheel, from goal setting, to experimenting and observing, to reviewing, and finally action planning. This complete process allows one to learn new skills, new attitudes or even entirely new ways of thinking.

Most educators understand the important role experience plays in the learning process. A fun learning environment, with plenty of laughter and respect for the learner's abilities, also fosters an effective experiential learning environment. It is vital that the individual is encouraged to directly involve themselves in the experience, in order that they gain a better understanding of the new knowledge and retain the information for a longer time. As stated by the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, "tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand."[citation needed]

According to learning consultants, experiential learning is about creating an experience where learning can be facilitated. How do you create a well-crafted learning experience? The key lies in the facilitator and how he or she facilitates the learning process. An excellent facilitator believes in the creed: "You teach some by what you say, teach more by what you do, but most of all, you teach most by who you are." And while it is the learner's experience that is most important to the learning process, it is also important not to forget the wealth of experience a good facilitator also brings to the situation.

An effective experiential facilitator is one who is passionate about his or her work and is able to immerse participants totally in the learning situation, allowing them to gain new knowledge from their peers and the environment created. These facilitators stimulate the imagination, keeping participants hooked on the experience.

Creating an experiential learning environment can be challenging for educators who have been taught through traditional classroom techniques. Identifying activities that allow learners to understand and absorb concepts can be a new and daunting experience. In traditional classrooms where lectures with PowerPoint slide sets are standard, educators need to be creative to engage students, get them up out of their chairs, involved in an experience. However, by providing direct experience in addition to standard written and visual materials, learners with different types of learning styles and strengths can be accommodated.

Sudbury model of democratic education schools assert that much of the learning going on in their schools, including values, justice, democracy, arts and crafts, professions, and frequently academic subjects, is done by learning through experience.[5][6][7][8]

[edit] Comparisons

Experiential learning is most easily compared with academic learning, the process of acquiring information through the study of a subject without the necessity for direct experience. While the dimensions of experiential learning are analysis, initiative, and immersion, the dimensions of academic learning are constructive learning and reproductive learning.[9] Though both methods aim at instilling new knowledge in the learner, academic learning does so through more abstract, classroom based techniques, whereas experiential learning actively involves the learner in a concrete experience.

[edit] See also

[edit] People

[edit] Related topics

[edit] References

  1. ^ Itin, C. M. (1999). Reasserting the Philosophy of Experiential Education as a Vehicle for Change in the 21st Century. The Journal of Experiential Education,.22(2), 91-98.
  2. ^ Bynum, W.F. and Porter, R. (eds) (2005) Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations. Oxford University Press. 21:9.
  3. ^ Itin, C. M. (1999). Reasserting the Philosophy of Experiential Education as a Vehicle for Change in the 21st Century. The Journal of Experiential Education,.22(2), 91-98.
  4. ^ Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: a comprehensive guide. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  5. ^ Greenberg, D. (1992) "'Ethics' is a Course Taught By Life Experience," Education in America - A View from Sudbury Valley.
  6. ^ Greenberg, D. (1987) "Teaching Justice Through Experience," The Sudbury Valley School Experience.
  7. ^ Greenberg, D. (1992) "Democracy Must be Experienced to be Learned," Education in America - A View from Sudbury Valley.
  8. ^ Greenberg, D. (1987) "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," Free at Last - The Sudbury Valley School.
  9. ^ Stavenga de Jong, J.A., Wierstra, R.F.A. and Hermanussen, J. (2006) "An exploration of the relationship between academic and experiential learning approaches in vocational education," British Journal of Educational Psychology. 76;1. pp. 155-169.
View page ratings
Rate this page
We will send you a confirmation e-mail. We will not share your e-mail address with outside parties as per our feedback privacy statement.
Saved successfully
Your ratings have not been submitted yet
Your ratings have expired
Please reevaluate this page and submit new ratings.
An error has occurred. Please try again later.
Thanks! Your ratings have been saved.
Please take a moment to complete a short survey.
Thanks! Your ratings have been saved.
Do you want to create an account?
An account will help you track your edits, get involved in discussions, and be a part of the community.
Thanks! Your ratings have been saved.
Did you know that you can edit this page?
Personal tools