"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” -Aristotle
What is Experiential Learning? It is the process of learning through the reflection of doing or hands-on direct experience. http://chat.carleton.ca/~tblouin/Kolb's%20Leaning%20Styles%20Model/more%20info%20kolb1.htm
Adult learners have many life experiences and when applied and reflected upon in relation to the information taught in a formal, non-formal or informal setting, they can better understand the concepts and apply and retain that information for longer periods of time. “Students will experience better retention if we can help them make connections to prior learning and to future application (meaning).” (Dialogueonlearning.com).
Experiential Learning & Our Senses Remember back to your first day of college. Your nerves may have been high, stomach in knots and possible fear of showing up to the wrong class. During this process, you were likely to have used your five senses. We may remember the sound of students running to class, the speechyour instructor gave, what the building looked like, how the desk felt and the smell of the hallway, text book and classroom.
These experiences are embedded in our long-term memory, because we were involved with them and we went through the actual process. Diem (2001) believes that, experiential learning helps students to remember “90% of what we see, hear, discuss, and practice.” Independently, the above sensory practices of sight, hearing, and speech only account for up to 30% of the learning process, but when combined with actual practice, true learning has occurred.”
How can Instructors/Facilitators incorporate Experiential/Active learning? Experiential/Active learning can occur in a variety of ways, several of which include: Internships Work-based Learning Simulations Field Trips
“Almost every textbook on adult education practice affirms the importance of experiential methods such as games, simulations, case studies, psychodrama, role play and internships and many universities now grant credit for adults' experiential learning.” (Brookfield, 1995).
Internships & Work-based Learning Internship and Work-based learning allow students to bridge the gap between theory and actual practice/doing. Learners typically work with an employer for a period of time that can range from a day to a year or longer. Students will also become more adept in their common sense approaches to solve problems and have the ability to demonstrate their learning experience through practical tasks.
Internships & Work-based Learning The instructor/facilitator can receive mid and ending evaluations of the student that are completed by the supervising employer. These evaluations can include the prescribed objectives that the instructor/facilitator has deemed appropriate and pertinent to the student’s learning experience and the areas that the student needs improvement and/or additional instruction.
Simulations Simulations can occur when the instructor/ facilitator allows students to work in groups, partners or on their own to “act” or “simulate” an experience.
Simulation Example The instructor may pair two classmates up, where one is the employer and one is a job candidate. The student acting as the employer could research expectations, questions to ask and how the candidate should act during an interview. The job candidate could research the simulated company, questions they may be asked and how they should dress and act for the interview. Once the research is complete, the students can proceed with holding a simulated interview where they are able to “see” how the information they are learning is applied.
Distance/Virtual Simulations In addition to classroom activities, distance learners especially may be interested in online simulations known as “Second Life” where computer animation allows individuals to participate in a virtual environment that imitates real-life. These experiences allow students to see 3-D objects, interact with other students, and take quizzes outlined by the instructor as well as viewing of videos incorporated for the curriculum. An example of Second Life and it’s educational importance is included in the next slide.
Field Trips Learners, either on their own or with other members of the class visit a specific company, park, location or person to tour and observe how the operation works, the daily operations, to shadow an employee and ask questions that pertains to their learning process.
Virtual Field Trips These experiences would obviously be less expensive, however there are many company websites that allow individuals to virtually tour their location. In addition, students would be able to virtually tour places in other cities, states and countries that they may not have the means to do in real-experiences.
“The key ingredient that facilitates long-term storage is meaningfulness. This term refers not to the inherent interest or worthiness of information, but rather to the degree to which it can be related to information already stored in our long-term memory. One concept or piece of information is more meaningful than another if the learner can make a larger number of connections between that piece of information and other information already in long-term memory.” (education.calumet.purdue.edu)
These experiences allow adults to connect with what they have learned in their current experiences, identify and reflect on how their past experiences contribute to their learning process as well as the long-term benefit of how they can incorporate into their future learning experiences. The bottom line is that learners must see meaning and real-world relevancy in order for the information to be stored for long-term memory.
References Brookfield, S. (1995) Adult learning: An overview. International Encyclopedia of Education Oxford. Pergamon Presshttp://www.digitalschool.net/edu/adult_learn_Brookfield.html Dialogue on Learning: A model for the creation of meaningful community college learning experiences. http://www.dialogueonlearning.tc3.edu/model/constructingmeaning/cm-connectionsgraphics.htm Diem, K. G. (2001) Leader Training Series: Learn by Doing the 4-H Way (Publication 454). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Kolb, D. A.; Experiential learning. http://chat.carleton.ca/~tblouin/Kolb's%20Leaning%20Styles%20Model/more%20info%20kolb1.htm Purdue University Calumet. Chapter 6, memory & information processing. http://education.calumet.purdue.edu/vockell/edPsybook/Edpsy6/edpsy6_long.htm