With the global education systems understanding the role of practical learning in education, the emphasis on combining theory with real-world applications is much visible. Academic institutions at all levels are now integrating books with interactive learning to ensure that every student gets to immerse in a unique and lifelong learning environment. This approach to blending practical learning with theoretical education is often referred to as Experiential Learning. Through this blog, we bring you a comprehensive guide on what Experiential Learning is, examples, activities and how it can be incorporated into classrooms.
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What is Experiential Learning?
To put it simply, Experiential Learning means learning from experience. Yes, it is that simple. An approach that includes trial and error, experiential learning rooted from the fact that we learn the best from experience, unless and until we try something on our own, we cannot fully understand it. Many researchers have argued that it is one of the best methods of learning. If we were to consider an example – no matter how many episodes of MasterChef you watch, unless and until you make the dishes on your own, you won’t be able to master the skill of cooking.
Experience-based learning is so effective because it helps to establish positive improvements in behaviour. Psychology also says that we develop new behaviours and habits instead of simply learning a new topic or acquiring an ability. In reality, 70% of what we know comes from experience and trying new stuff, according to the 70/20/10 Model for Learning Development. Yet as we focus on those experiences, real learning happens! Thus, experiential learning takes this unique though commonly known fact and transforms education into a thorough experience.
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Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory
One of the most associated names with experiential learning is of Professor D.A. Kolb’s who stated that Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it.
Research by Kolb illustrates that mastering knowledge is an ongoing process of four elements, i.e.
- Concrete Experience
- Reflective Observation
- Abstract Conceptualization
- Active Experimentation
These components make up the cycle of experiential learning that illustrates the relationship between each point.
Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning Explained
Let’s elaborate upon the four core elements of Experiential Learning Theory by Kolb:
The hands-on personal experiences we benefit from are defined by concrete experience. This is where we try new stuff, get stuck and get out of our comfort zone. In our personal or professional lives, these encounters could be anything such as trying a new recipe, completing a regular job at work, or anything else. Thus, experience is a crucial part of the experiential learning cycle by Kolb as he emphasizes that we will benefit from our successes and mistakes by means of experience. It is what comes next that causes real shifts in behaviour!
Next, we must focus in order to benefit from our experiences effectively. This is what the experiential learning cycle’s ‘Reflective Observation’ process is all about. It is at this point that we consider experiences and ponder them. What has gone well and what should have been improved? It’s also an opportunity to observe how different it might have been achieved and to learn from others. So, this is an analysis level, observing alternatives and drawing up pros and cons.
Once we have recognized and we know the defining features of an experience, next time, if anything, we can decide what we will do differently. This is a time for success strategies to plan and brainstorm. To prevent a baking mishap, you could set the oven timer, use spell check and practice that challenging task at work when you have some spare time. In no time, you will be at the top of the learner leaderboard through experiential learning!
The learning cycle’s active experimentation phase is where we get to experiment with our ideas. In the real world, it is time to put your action plan to the test! After all, we won’t know if it works if we don’t try something. Whatever you’re trying to learn, however lofty or comprehensive your plans are you have to put the textbooks away at some stage and do it for real. But you have to go back to the drawing board many times, but the taste of success is worth it!
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Experiential Learning is the Future
We assume there are eight reasons why the future of learning is experiential learning.
- Accelerates Learning
- Provides a safe learning environment
- Bridges the gap between theory and practice
- Produces mindset changes
- Increases engagement levels
- Delivers exceptional ROI
- Provides accurate assessment results
- Enables personalized learning
Instead of formal training courses, experiential learning is a process that enables learners to develop knowledge and skills from their own experience. Experiential learning encompasses a variety of hands-on activities that are interactive and participative and is much more effective than traditional approaches to learning.
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Hence, we hope that this blog helped you explore the key aspects of experiential learning. Planning to pursue a degree abroad? Our Leverage Edu experts are here to help you at every step of the process from selecting the right course and university to sorting out the admission essentials! Sign up for a free session now!