Experiential learning understands that experience is the starting point of learning. An experiential learning process involves three integrated factors. A facilitator (1) designs and delivers experiential learning activities (2) that befit participants (3). Based on a foundation of dynamic relationship between facilitator and participants, a locally familiar design is delivered interactively.
Guided by concepts of andragogy (adult learning theory), experiential learning activities draw from the existing concrete experiences (1) of the participants. The facilitator asks the participants to reflect (2) on what may have happened in an applicable real world setting. Once the story has been told, the facilitator guides the participants into abstract conceptualization (3) where they answer the question, “So what?” After understanding cause and effect, key categories, and underlying assumptions, the facilitator pulls the participants in the direction of active experimentation (4). “Now what?” What will the participants do differently in a future real world setting?
What the participants know, be, and do prior to active learning is presumably smaller. After the experiential learning activities, what they know, be, and do is enhanced and changed to a significant degree.
A second key factor in the process of experiential learning are the participants. Who are they? From what backgrounds? With what existing understanding and skills?
Finally, the facilitator designs and delivers experiential learning activities strategically.
How to facilitate reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation? Global Perspectives Consulting can provide key questions to ask in each category. How to evaluate experiential learning? As well, GPC can help.
Dr. Robert Strauss is a Managing Partner with Global Perspectives. He also is an Affiliate Faculty in the College of Business and Economics at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Additionally, he facilitates trainings programs in the public and private sectors.
Follow him on Twitter: @robert_strauss