Experiential learning, a hands-on approach to learning, is gaining recognition for its effectiveness, particularly when considering adult education and professional development. By incorporating experience it ensures active participation, context, and encourages reflection – the essential components of the adult learning cycle. In this article we’ll explore how experiential learning works, why it’s pivotal, how it is intertwined with the adult learning cycle and promotes inclusion and diversity.
The Power of Learning by Doing
At the core of experiential learning lies active engagement. Experiential learning urges learners to take charge, thus enabling a deeper understanding and better retention of knowledge. Active hands-on learning resonates with those who prefer to be involved in their learning journey.
Bridging Theory and Practice
Experiential learning provides tangible context for abstract concepts. This approach aligns with the adult learner’s need to immediately apply knowledge to their personal or professional lives. By transforming theory into practice, experiential learning bridges this gap.
Learning from Experience
An essential aspect of experiential learning is reflection. It’s through analyzing and understanding their actions and the associated outcomes that learners achieve deeper insights. Reflective practice resonates strongly with adult learners who are generally self-directed and motivated by understanding the why behind their actions.
Diverse Learning Styles
Experiential learning acknowledges and accommodates the fact that learners have different learning styles. Whether one prefers learning by doing, observing, or a combination of both, experiential learning offers a platform for all. This approach is particularly beneficial for adult learning, as it respects individual learning preferences and promotes inclusion.
Authentic Learning Experiences
Scenarios form the basis of experiential learning. Using scenarios enhances the learning’s relevance and applicability, key motivators for goal-oriented adult learners. When learners can see the connection between what they are learning and its application, learning becomes more meaningful and effective.
The Power of Error Management
Experiential learning offers immediate feedback through experiences, providing the opportunity to learn from mistakes. This trial-and-error approach nurtures problem-solving and critical thinking skills which are vital aspects to solving real-world problems and improving performance.
Experiential learning scenarios often incorporate teamwork, allowing learners to gain exposure to varied perspectives and ideas. This collaborative approach provides the opportunity to learn from others and balance the strengths and weakness of the team.
Experiential learning is more than a novel educational approach. It is a dynamic and engaging pathway that caters to unique learning needs and it aligns perfectly with the adult learning cycle.
By blending active engagement, experience, reflection, learning style diversity, relevance, error management, and collaboration experiential learning and the adult learning cycle improves individual and collective performance, and cultivates a culture of trust, resilience, inclusion and diversity.
Experiential learning and the adult learning cycle form the basis of our programs at Gasparotto Group.