Experiental learning

Experiental learning

Experiential Learning is the process of making meaning from direct experience.

It is a term often used mistakenly as a synonymous term for experiential education, action learning, adventure learning, free choice learning, cooperative learning, service learning and many others. While there are relationships and connections, importantly they are also separate terms with separate meanings.

Experiential learning focuses on the learning for the individual - where as experiential education focuses on the transactive process between teacher and learner. Education focuses on the relationship between teaching and learning. Learning on the direct process for the individual (possibly student).

Experiential learning requires no teacher and relates solely to the meaning making process of the individual from direct experience. It is an inherent process that occurs naturally. However, as John Dewey pointed out experiential learning can often lead to 'mis-educative experiences". The classic example of this is the lecture experience many students have in traditional education contexts. While the content of the course might be "physics" the experiential learning might be that "I hate physics". This is mis-educative as the student has should have actually learned "I hate lectures" Experiential learning therefore can be problematic as the generalizations or "meaning" may be misapplied. There are countless examples of this in prejudice, stereotypes, and related areas.

David Kolb help to popularize the idea of experiential learning drawing heavily on the work of John Dewey and Jean Piaget. His work on experiential learning have made broad contributions to expanding the philosophy of experiential education.

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