Experiential Learning — A New Way Of Learning

The teaching and learning in the school system comprises of the group of children that make up a class. Textbooks are considered to be the sole source of knowledge. The teacher is required to impart knowledge to the learners, and complete the syllabus from the text books within a given time frame. Going through different stages of learning, children move from one grade to another after covering the prescribed syllabus.

The important question to ask here is — How much does a school prepare children for the real world? Today, there is a need to change the way children learn and interact.The fundamental questions we need to engage with are — how do children learn, what is worth teaching and what are we preparing our children for?

The answers to these questions make us reflect on the learning that children get through different sources. The mission of learning should be to bridge the gap between theory and practice and it is here that experiential learning provides a solution. Dr Kolb’s theory of experiential learning shows how experience is translated through reflection into concepts, which in turn are used as guides for active experimentation. David A. Kolb is Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Weatheread School of Management.

The first stage, concrete experience (CE), is where learners perform or do a hands-on minds-on experience with little or no help from the instructor. This includes making products or models, role-playing, giving a presentation, problem-solving, playing a game.

The second stage, reflective observation (RO), is where the learners consciously reflect back on that experience. They share results, reactions and observations with their peers. They also get other peers to talk about their own experience, share their reactions and observations and discuss feelings generated by the experience. The sharing equates to reflecting on what they discovered and relating it to past experiences which can be used for future use.

The third stage, abstract conceptualization (AC), is where the learners attempt to conceptualize a theory or model of what is observed. They discuss, analyze and reflect upon the experience. Describing and analyzing their experiences allows learners to relate them to future learning experiences. Learners also discuss how the experience was carried out, how themes, problems and issues emerged as a result of the experience. Learners discuss how specific problems or issues were addressed.

The fourth stage, active experimentation (AE), is where the learner tries to plan how to test a model or theory or plan for a forthcoming experience. Learners connect the experience with real world examples, find trends or common truths in the experience, and identify “real life” principles that emerged. Learners discuss how issues raised can be useful in future situations and how more effective behaviors can develop from what they learned.

Unlike traditional classroom situations where learners may compete with one another, remain uninvolved or unmotivated and where the instruction is highly structured, learners in experiential learning situations cooperate and learn from one another in a more semi-structured approach. Instruction is designed to engage learners. A key facet of experiential learning is what the learners learn from the experience rather than the quantity or quality of the experience.

Today many schools have also started incorporating experiential learning in teaching/learning techniques into the classroom wherein students engage in experiential learning through activities such as workshops, cultural exchanges, museum tours, and nature expeditions.

By Chitra Iyengar — Educational Specialist

Chitra Iyengar

I started out in the field of education accidentally initially, today its my choice. Am an ambivert believe in living life for the moment and love eating:)

“In order to provide each child with a whole child education, school and community leaders must relentlessly dissolve barriers and build cohesive systems that foster excellence. Only then will we fulfill our pledge to provide every child the opportunity to pursue a successful life.”

Connect with other great educators at : blog@ei-india.com

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Originally published at blog.ei-india.com on September 21, 2016.

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