Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and can be more accurately explained as "learning through reflection on doing",
Learning through experience is a highly valued approach in organisational learning as it keeps the focus of the learning on practical application.
Learning through experience is about encouraging learners to have a go at putting into practice what they’ve learnt. It’s about applying their learning to the real world, eg on the job (or if that’s not possible then through simulations, case studies etc), and being supported by a facilitator/teacher/coach/mentor to reflect on their efforts to develop their technique to the required standard.
Kolbs 4-stage learning cycle an explanation of the cycle of experiential learning that applies to all learners. http://www.jcu.edu.au/wiledpack/modules/fsl/JCU_090344.html
Experiential learning is an iterative process that helps embed the learning so that the new skill or knowledge is as easy to use as driving a car. It helps move the learning from the learner’s working memory to their long term memory, it strengthens neural pathways and turns them into highways. But I’ll talk more about this in ‘11 ways to create great instructional design #4 Understand how people learn – The Neuroscience of Learning’).
In this blog I want to share 3 important adult learning theories that underpin experiential learning and by knowing them will help you to design great learning experiences for people. They are:
Here is a brief description of each theory and some ideas for how to use them.
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Doolittle P.E. & Hicks D. (2003) Constructivism as a Theoretical Foundation for the Use of Technology in Social Studies, Theory & Research in Social Education, 31:1, 72-104, DOI: 10.1080/00933104.2003.10473216
Fenwick, T.J (2001) Experiential Learning: A Theoretical Critique from Five Persectives. Information Services No. 385., Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Washington DC.
Marton & Trigwell (2000) Variatio Est Mater Studiorum pp. 381-395, Higher Education Research and Development, Vol 19. Issue 3 2000
Wenger, E. (2012) Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept
Wenger, E. (1998), Communities of Practice, Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge University Press, New York NY