Do you recall the first time you learned to ride a bike? Many of us have had the experience of falling, getting up, and falling again, gradually improving until we can go around the block. This is an excellent example of experiential learning, or learning by doing. This form of learning entails acting, watching, reflecting, correcting errors, implementing what has been learned, and repeating the process until the learning is mastered.
Experiential learning is natural; we've all benefited from it in a variety of scenarios. Simply considering how a newborn learns to talk and walk with experience shows how powerful this approach is.
Experiential learning, as applied to education, is an active process that engages the learner rather than a passive one that happens to the student. Experience serves as the foundation for learning in this process, while rigorous analysis and reflection on experience foster learning. Rather than instructing, the instructor encourages students to find things out for themselves and helps them through their learning. The assumption that there are no "right methods of thinking," "following rules," or "perfect actions" that must be studied and implemented is implicit in the learning that pupils generate.
Educational psychologists such as John Dewey, Carl Rogers, and David Kolb investigated the notion of experiential learning throughout the twentieth century. Kolb argued that "learning is the process by which we form knowledge via the transformation of experience," and he suggested a "learning cycle" that included the following four stages:
First, the student interacts directly in an authentic scenario, either at school or outside of it, in a tangible experience. Second, reflective observation requires you to see and recognize what is working and what is not, as well as to link it to prior experiences. Third, throughout the stage of abstract conceptualization, the learner generalizes and turns his or her perceptions into abstract notions. He asks himself, "How?" and "What would happen if...?" It is his or her critical thinking that is at work. And lastly, new ideas emerge, skills are polished, and we gain a fresh experience through active experimenting.
According to the University of Texas at Austin, "experiential" learning includes the following components: reflection, critical analysis, and synthesis. It allows kids to take initiative, make decisions, and be held accountable for their actions, allowing them to contribute academically, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically.
Increases the incentive for students to learn. When students take part in meaningful learning activities, the product is more important than the grade; they are more motivated to learn, and they generate a more considered result.
Produces pupils that are self-sufficient. Students must discover for themselves what they know, what they don't know, and how to learn to solve issues and accomplish tasks in novel settings in a real-world environment.
Reflection increases learning and assists students in applying existing knowledge to new situations, acquiring new concepts, principles, and abilities, and understanding how they got this knowledge.
Students gain confidence, develop abilities, and engage successfully in group projects as they develop tenacity, curiosity, and responsibility.