Experiential learning is sometimes understood to be the type of learning that occurs on a work placement when a student gets a chance to apply and practice what they have been learning in an educational setting. However, it is also the learning that takes place as a result of our daily experiences.
How individuals interpret an experience will depend greatly on their own cultural values and beliefs. Our experiences are interpreted and filtered against a backdrop of our gender, ethnicity, politics, religion and social class.
Students' experiences can be a valuable resource in the class. However, many students may not have reflected on their experiences, or considered alternative interpretations to events in their lives. Adult educators should acknowledge student experiences while also encouraging students to question their experiences from different perspectives. David Kolb's work in this area has been influential, particularly the learning cycle he developed with Roger Fry.
Taken from www.infed.org/biblio/b-explrn.htm
Most models of experiential learning are cyclical and have three basic phases:
- An experience or problem situation;
- A reflection phase - the learner analyses the experience and considers what has been learned;
- An application phase - the new insights are applied to a new problem situation or experience.
Actively encouraging learners to reflect on their experiences helps develop critical thinking skills.