When it comes to education, one can agree that we have definitely moved on from the traditional methods of imparting knowledge. Education is no longer only restricted to the four walls of the classroom, and notes on the blackboard. Rather, everything that is there to learn is all around us. So, it’s no surprise then that we have come across new models of learning in the last decade or so. One such learning model is that of experiential learning. If you’re wondering what’s it’s all about, we’re here to help you find out.
The experiential learning cycle outlines how humans learn best through experience and reflection when broken down. As a result, informal learning is based on trial and error. It's about going through the process of actually learning what we want to learn and then commenting on it. Students are better able to apply ideas and knowledge taught in the classroom to real-world issues when they are engaged in hands-on experiences and reflection.
Because it aids in the establishment of long-term behaviour change, experience-based learning is extremely successful. How? We build new habits and behaviours rather than merely understanding a new subject or learning a new ability.
Professor DA Kolb, the person most associated with experiential learning theory, who proposed this in 1984 remarked, “Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it.” Mastering expertise, according to his research, is a never-ending cycle of experience, reflection, conceptualisation, and experimenting. Kolb's experiential learning cycle, which depicts the relationship between each phase, is made up of these aspects.
Experiential Learning Cycle
Let’s look into the learning cycle, as devised by Kolb.
1. Concrete Experience
The term "concrete experience" refers to the hands-on personal encounters through which we learn. It's where we try new things, get stuck in, and push ourselves beyond our comfort zones. These experiences could be from our personal or professional lives, such as trying a new recipe, completing a daily task at work, or improving a skill. We may learn from our achievements and failures via experience. What follows afterwards is what causes true behavioural change.
2. Reflective Observation
Next, we must reflect in order to effectively learn from our experiences. This is what the experiential learning cycle's 'reflective observation' phase is all about. We think about and ponder our experiences at this period. What went well and what could be done better? It's also an opportunity to see how things may have been done better and to learn from others.
3. Abstract Conceptualisation
We may decide what we will do differently next time once we have discovered and understood the distinctive aspects of an experience. This is the time to prepare and devise successful strategies.
4. Active Experimentation
We get to try out our ideas at the ‘active experimentation’ phase of the learning cycle. Now is the time to put your strategy into action in the real world! After all, we'll never know if something works unless we try it. Whatever you're attempting to master, no matter how lofty or comprehensive your goals, you'll need to put the textbooks away at some time and put your plans into action.
Students obtain the following benefits by participating in experiential education opportunities:
• A better grasp of the course material
• A broader perspective of the world and a sense of belonging
• A better understanding of their own abilities, interests, passions, and values
• Collaboration opportunities with a wide range of organisations and individuals
• Professional practises and skill sets that are beneficial
• The satisfaction of helping to meet a community's demands
• Self-assurance and leadership abilities
In conclusion, the concept of experiential learning helps a student gain knowledge not only within the classroom, but also outside of it. The knowledge they gain via education is effectively turned into a behaviour and life-skills that will aid the pupil throughout.