What Is Experiential Learning? How Does it Benefit Learners?
Experiential learning is more than just a buzzword. It is a vital learning approach in today’s ever-changing work and learning landscape. The ones that can adapt and learn quickly are the ones that thrive and succeed. This guide explains the advantages of experiential learning so you can learn how to optimize its benefits.
What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential learning is when you learn through experience. Psychologist David Kolb developed this learning theory when he realized the value of experience in the learning process of a student. He believes that when a person experiences something, they are transformed as a result of that experience and also learn in the process.
Kolb describes two methods wherein transformation happens during a particular experience. It starts with a concrete experience where a student develops new theories as a result of that particular experience. Based on that experience, a person can do one of two things: reflective observation or active experimentation.
Reflective observation is when you “watch” that experience unfold, while active experimentation is when you engage with the experience and become an active participant. Both of these methods can foster learning, although the learning can vary accordingly.
The traditional methods of teaching and learning are broken down because of the introduction of these new concepts. Even educational institutions adopt them, too, given their far-reaching benefits to the learning process. For this reason, many schools choose to develop various methods of learning outside of the classroom, such as project-based learning, educational tours, and cultural exchanges, to name but a few.
Advantages of Experiential Learning
Experiential learning is quickly outpacing the traditional instructor-led methods of teaching as the recommended approach to learning. These advantages of experiential learning demonstrate why:
1. It makes it easier to understand concepts.
The traditional methods of teaching can make it difficult for students to learn and fully understand concepts because most of them exist in theory. On the other hand, experiential learning is focused on the “real world” and the applications of concepts and theories.
Students are not required to memorize data and facts. Instead, they can interact with the applications of that data and grasp the information more effectively because it is real to them.
2. It teaches students how to apply their knowledge.
The more you apply and use your knowledge, the more you learn. This statement serves as the basis of experiential learning. It focuses on using knowledge to solve real-world challenges, giving you a more in-depth insight into their underlying principles. The learning process takes place through experiments and practical examination.
3. It encourages creativity.
Learning is not just about analytics and problem-solving. Creativity is an important part of the process, too. One example of this is in Montessori learning wherein children are encouraged to step out of the classroom and explore their outdoor environment. Interacting with various objects around them will encourage their creative minds to flourish.
4. It provides real-time feedback.
An experiential learning approach is also effective because it permits instant feedback. The teacher can provide feedback during practice so students can make immediate changes to achieve the desired result. This process of giving feedback also enables students to think quickly on their feet.
5. It provides room for reflection.
Switching from abstract concepts to concrete experiences can shift a student’s mindset. It allows them to pause and reflect on the experience and engage parts of their brain that strengthen whatever learning they have acquired. As a result, learning can vary from student to student because each one has a different way of processing their experiences. And that is what makes experiential learning so effective, because it is dynamic.
6. It turns mistakes into learning opportunities.
One of the most critical advantages of experiential learning is there is no right or wrong way of doing things. Every mistake is considered a valuable learning experience. Students can reflect on what they can change about the previous actions that could also change the outcome.
7. It makes learning more fun and meaningful.
The traditional methods of teaching lack engagement. Students are passive learners and are not actively involved in the process. Therefore, they are less committed to the process and the learning they acquire can also be diminished.
With experiential learning, students change their attitude toward learning. They look at it as a challenge and an opportunity to explore. Engaged students are more open to receiving and absorbing knowledge. A healthy attitude toward learning is also critical to the success of the learning process.