As such, compared theories of learning pdf book experiential education, experiential learning is concerned with more concrete issues related to the learner and the learning context. The general concept of learning through experience is ancient.
But as an articulated educational approach, experiential learning is of much more recent vintage. Experiential learning has significant teaching advantages. Learning only has good effects when learners have the desire to absorb the knowledge. Therefore, experiential learning requires the showing of directions for learners.
Experiential learning focuses on the learning process for the individual. One 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. Following this example, in the “concrete experience” stage, the learner physically experiences the bike in the “here-and-now”. However, though the gaining of knowledge is an inherent process that occurs naturally, a genuine learning experience requires certain elements. According to Kolb, knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences. The learner must possess decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience.
Experiential learning requires self-initiative, an “intention to learn” and an “active phase of learning”. While those factors may improve the likelihood of experiential learning occurring, it can occur without them. Rather, what is vital in experiential learning is that the individual is encouraged to directly involve themselves in the experience, and then to reflect on their experiences using analytic skills, in order that they gain a better understanding of the new knowledge and retain the information for a longer time. Reflection is a crucial part of the experiential learning process, and like experiential learning itself, it can be facilitated or independent. Dewey wrote that “successive portions of reflective thought grow out of one another and support one another”, creating a scaffold for further learning, and allowing for further experiences and reflection. This reinforces the fact that experiential learning and reflective learning are iterative processes, and the learning builds and develops with further reflection and experience. Facilitation of experiential learning and reflection is challenging, but “a skilled facilitator, asking the right questions and guiding reflective conversation before, during, and after an experience, can help open a gateway to powerful new thinking and learning”.
Does that happen in life? How can you use that? These questions are posed by the facilitator after an experience, and gradually lead the group towards a critical reflection on their experience, and an understanding of how they can apply the learning to their own life. Although the questions are simple, they allow a relatively inexperienced facilitator to apply the theories of Kolb, Pfeiffer, and Jones, and deepen the learning of the group. 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.