“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Because the topic of experiential learning is so vast, it is difficult to define. Lewis and Williams (1994), in my mind, summed it up best:
“In its simplest form, experiential learning means learning from experience or learning by doing. Experiential education first immerses learners in an experience and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking.”
During my research for this post, I found a new instructor detailing their experience teaching for the first time, and how on reflection they applied experiential learning to illustrate how effective it can be:
This really spoke to me, as I am currently debating a career change from IT to teaching. This article illustrated for me the benefits of experiential learning as well as the importance of creating a sense of engagement in the classroom in order to engender success. The description of the challenges I may face in the classroom as a rookie instructor was the icing on the cake!
One other example of experiential learning that I found effective was how student placements, or ‘work terms’ are utilized. Having been through work term placements myself, I understood how they have been used to tie together a student’s training and to give them real-world experience in the work place. What I have not realized until now, however, was how student placements are also used to encourage other skills such as critical thinking, verbal and written skills, and other soft skills that may be used on the job, but will be effective skills no matter what the career choice may be.
This semester placement program for Marine Science students at University of Texas illustrates how experiential learning can be utilized in order to better reinforce and extend the learning that occurs in the classroom: