The concept of experiential learning is growing in prominence as schools are shifting from rote learning to experiential learning. In contrast to conventional learning methodologies, experiential learning fosters a pragmatic learning ecosystem. If you haven’t integrated experiential learning into your pedagogical approaches, it is high time you do. If you are wondering how to implement experiential learning in your curriculum, we have got you covered.
What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential learning(EL) is the type of learning in which students ‘learn by doing’. It allows them to reflect on their tasks and comprehend the concepts they learn in the best way possible. It provides students with a hands-on learning experience that leads to their holistic development. EL ensures students’ active participation in the learning journey as they practically apply the theoretical knowledge they gained. As students actively engage in the process, the retention of the knowledge that they acquire will be high.
Moreover, EL enables students to have exposure to real-life situations, and hence, it prepares them to face the challenges that come their way. It plays a key role in the skill development of students and improves their competency. Students will have an upper hand in their future endeavors as they gain experience to deal with different scenarios.
Experiential Learning Theory of David Kolb
The psychologist and educational theorist David Kolb formulated the theory that facilitates the process of experiential learning. His model was published in the year 1984 and still holds prominence because of the impact it can leave on students. According to Kolb's experiential learning theory, there are four learning styles and a four-stage cycle of learning. Let us walk you through Kolb’s four stages of the experiential learning process to understand the concept better. The learner who successfully completes the stages will be able to comprehend the concepts in the best possible way.
Kolb’s Four Stages of the Experiential Learning Process
The four stages include concrete learning, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation.
Concrete learning occurs when a student encounters a new experience or examines an old one from a different angle. For instance, learning to ride a bicycle for the first time.
Reflective observation is the stage where students reflect on their experiences. They try to understand the experience in a better way. For example, when the learner understands why s/he couldn’t balance the cycle and ride it properly.
The learner will develop ideas for how to address the inadequacies of their experience after carefully studying it. Let us consider the bicycle example to understand this better. The learner who was learning to ride a bicycle would understand why s/he couldn’t ride it well, so s/he finds a better way to ride the bicycle.
Now that s/he has learned to ride a bicycle, it is time for some experimentation. S/he could try riding a bicycle with a single hand. Since he is an expert, s/he could try out some new “ways” like that. So, in this stage, the learner would experiment with his/her findings and tries if new changes can be made.
Examples of Experiential Learning
- Observing plants on your own to understand processes like photosynthesis.
- Visiting a zoo to see animals in real life and understand the lifestyle.
- Visiting agricultural farms to understand better about farming.
- Factory visits to understand how machines work.
These are some examples of experiential learning. Now let’s look into how you can integrate experiential learning into your pedagogical methodologies.
Implementation of Experiential Learning in Schools
Incorporating EL into the learning process of students can have a great impact on their learning experience. As students are actively involved in the learning process when you are integrating EL, students tend to understand the concepts in a better way. They will have an opportunity to witness and experience different aspects of a concept and will be able to apply various aspects in their real lives. There are multiple ways to implement experiential learning in schools. If your goal is to impart knowledge in a way that leaves a long-lasting impact on your students, EL would be the right choice.
As teachers, you can involve your students in various activities that facilitate concept comprehension for students. Try to find activities revolving around the topics you are dealing with, this gives students a wider perspective about the topic. Followed by these, ask your students to do something innovative that involves the concept. This will help you understand how students have perceived the particular topic and also allows students to develop their creative capabilities.
Field trips are another practical approach for enabling EL. Take the class to locations that are relevant to their studies. This gives students practical exposure to their learning concepts and helps them to develop an interest in learning and the subject. Moreover, it aids students in finding their interests and bringing out their creative side.
Hope this article gave you a perspective on experiential learning and its implementation. You can adopt these methodologies to upscale your students' abilities and enhance your pedagogical methods.