Experiential Learning, Its Benefits and How It Can Be Used to Make Education System Effective
- Did you ever feel that your child is overburdened with the homework, projects, and assignments of the present education system?
- Do you think that our education system fails to coach the students according to their aptitude?
- Have you ever considered other options such as homeschooling, experiential education, and skill training to identify the talents in your kids and coach them to perform better?
The present education system is highly competitive and burdens the child. Children are taught the same concepts without identifying their innate talents and aptitude. They are expected to rote learn the syllabus and vomit the answers in their examinations to score well.
Todays’s education system tests the memory of the students rather than their understanding of the concepts and their idea of applying them in real-life scenarios. As a result, we are raising a generation of students, who score well and have high grades in schools and colleges but are hardly ready for employment. Some surveys have pointed out that only 20 to 25% of the present graduates are employable.
What is an effective solution to this problem?
Implementing the 70 20 10 formula in education can help us to raise highly skilled and employable students. The formula was developed by Morgan McCall and the Centre for Creative Leadership during the 1980s.
According to the 70:20:10 formula, 70% of the learning is experiential education, 20% is social learning, and the remaining 10% is formal learning. The learning and development formula states that almost 90% of effective learning is informal learning and only 10% is formal learning.
While the 10% formal education helps us to learn the solid facts, figures, and theories that form the basic foundation of effective learning. Whereas, the 90% experiential education helps us to put the facts and figures to test and learn the application of theories through experience, observation, and sharing.
Experiential education is an effective solution to overcome the problems of the current education system. Though the term sounds too scientific and jargony, it simply means learning through experience.
Before we proceed further, let us first understand what is experiential learning and who coined the term.
Experiential learning is a form of informal learning, where students learn by observing things and experiencing them. Experiential education encourages students to learn concepts through a trial and error basis. It helps them to develop long-lasting habits and behaviors, rather than just learning new skills or subjects.
The term experiential learning is associated with professor D.A.Kolb. According to the theory of experiential learning Kolb, the continuous cycle of experience, reflection, conceptualization, and experimentation, helps to develop expertise and knowledge.
Kolb’s theory of experiential learning has four important stages:
These are the hands-on experiences that motivate us to learn new things. These experiences force us to get out of our comfort zone and try new things. They can be anything from picking up a new skill, trying a recipe, or enrolling for a new activity. These experiences allow us to learn from our successes and failures.
In order to learn from our experiences, we need to reflect and observe. This stage involves reflecting on the outcomes of the experience and drawing conclusions. In this stage, you can think of alternative ways to perform the task and learn how other people have done it.
This is the third stage of the experiential learning process. It involves planning and coming up with strategies that guarantee success. You can practice a concept over and over again, take steps to avoid failure, and devise strategies that ensure success.
The fourth stage of experiential education is active experimentation. In this stage, you will put your ideas and strategies to test in real-life scenarios. You will never know how good are your ideas and strategies unless you put them to test. No matter how many times you fail, you have to keep experimenting with new ideas until you achieve expertise.
For example, if we are planning to drive a car, it involves 4 stages. The first stage is to observe how other people drive the car, the next step is conceptualization which involves reading the driving instruction book, the third step is to get practical driving instructions from an experienced coach, and finally, the experimentation phase involves getting behind the wheel and driving the car.
According to professor Kolb, the four stages of experiential learning are a continuous process that helps to form long-lasting behaviors that lead to success.
Let us explore some experiential education strategies and experiential learning examples to understand the concept better.
There are 2 types of experiential education strategies. The course-focused strategies, and community-focused strategies:
- Course Focused Strategies
These strategies help students learn better through observation and experimentation. These strategies can be implemented within a classroom to encourage children to explore different issues, correlate them, and make connections with the background theories in the course content. Some experiential learning examples activities for course focussed strategies are role-play, case studies, simulation, workshops, lab activities, use of visual media such as films and documentaries, etc.
For example, instead of just reading about animals from textbooks, children will learn better when they see documentaries about different animals, their natural habitat, and their lifestyle.
- Community Focused Strategies
Community-focused strategies help students to connect the experiences in their community and the course content. These strategies motivate students to indulge in community-based learning, community-based research, and community service. These experiences help students to understand their community at a closer level and apply the theoretical concepts they have learned in the classroom for the betterment of their community. Some experiential learning examples of community-focused learning strategies include field trips, conducting community events, visits to museums, serving in shelters and food banks, helping children with disabilities, etc.
For example, if you have to teach about the local history to the students, organizing field visits to museums, and other historic places in the city helps to provide first-hand experiences of the places and makes children interested to learn more about them.
Advantages of Experiential Education
- Improves Focus
Experiential education helps to improve focus. Children who are learning through observation and experimentation are less likely to get disinterested and bored.
- Encourages Learning Differently
When children learn through experience and experimentation, they are more emotionally involved in the process. Experiential learning helps children to discover dynamic methods of acquiring knowledge.
- Facilitates Faster Learning
Experiential education fosters critical thinking and problem-solving abilities in children. Both these processes are known to enhance learning speed and content retention capabilities.
- Boosts Creativity
Experiential learning encourages children to come up with out-of-the-box ideas to solve different challenges. It educates the children that there are multiple solutions to handle a challenge or a task, and motivates them to come up with their unique solutions based on their understanding of the problem.
- Provides Valuable Experiences
Experiential education encourages children to reflect on the outcomes of their experiments. As a result, they engage more regions of their brain to make connections between their actions and the outcomes of the experiments. They observe how their friends have handled the same challenge and how the outcomes vary depending on the action. It helps them to understand the concept and its practical application in varied circumstances.
Research states that on average we retain 75% of what we do, 5% of what we hear, and 10% of what we read. Experiential education can be used to make our education system effective. It improves the focus and grasping capabilities of students and makes them more engaged with the learning process.
Experiential Learning Examples
Experiential education is a great technique that can provide amazing results in improving the learning outcomes of children. No matter whether you are homeschooling your children, a private tutor, or a teacher, you can effectively use experiential learning activities to add value to your teaching. Here are some interesting experiential learning examples activities to help you.
- Field Trips
Field trips are an awesome way to introduce children to the real world. They help the children to understand how the concepts learned in the classroom help to solve real-life problems and challenges. Field trips help to erase classroom boredom and improve the grades of students. They provide a new learning environment for the students and motivate them to explore new concepts and ideas that cannot be taught in the classroom. Moreover, they also develop a bond between the students and the teachers and facilitate open communication. The duration of field trips can range from a few hours to a few days, depending on the age of the students.
- Adventure Trips
Adventure trips are an excellent way to make children self-reliant and increase their confidence. Being away from their parents for a long duration makes them learn basic life skills and become independent. These trips take the children away from their comfort zone and provide opportunities to learn new skills and develop new hobbies. Adventure camps are conducted on a variety of different themes such as skiing, trekking, mountain climbing, surfing, sailing, etc. Choose an activity based on your child’s interest and send them on a memorable trip. Adventure camps aid to build endurance and physical fitness along with other survival skills. Pencil voyages is a reputed name for adventure camps in India. We conduct experiential education activities such as group discussions, team-building activities, role-plays, etc. in our camps to help the participants enhance their leadership and communication skills.
- Environmental Learning
Environmental learning involves taking children close to nature. This enables them to become conscious of the environment and take steps to prevent environmental degradation. Environmental learning includes participating in nature camps, forest treks, wildlife excursions, bird-watching expeditions, star gazing, etc. These programs provide children with an opportunity to explore nature and understand how important it is to adopt a sustainable lifestyle for environmental conservation. Moreover, nature trips also develop creative thinking abilities in children.
- Learning Workshops
Workshops are another creative way to offer children relief from the rigorous school schedule. These programs help children to make new friends and overcome shyness and social awkwardness. Experiential education workshops are useful to develop new talents, explore new hobbies and instill self-confidence in children. Since most of these workshops are conducted according to the age group, they can meet other children of their age and form friendships.
- Art Classes
Painting classes, music and dance classes, drama workshops, etc. are an awesome way to enhance creativity in children and keep them happy. These activities keep the child active and allow them to identify their hidden talents. Let the child try different activities to enable them to identify what interests them.
- Industrial Visits
Industrial visits are very effective in bridging the gap between theory and practice. They provide a glimpse of the real-life working of various corporate offices and factories. Students can understand how the theories in the textbook can be put to practical use to get the required outcomes. They provide students with an enriching experience about the functioning of various industries and help them to choose their future careers.
There are many other experiential education activities that help teachers and parents to make learning interesting for children. You have to choose the right program that appeals to the child and suits his style of learning to get positive results.
Learning Styles According to Professor Kolb:
Experiential learning is not a one size fits all method of learning. It depends on the choices of the learner and what method of learning suits him the best. According to the experiential learning Kolb theory, there are four different learning styles. They are classified based on how people perceive and process information. People tend to develop these learning patterns based on their background and past experiences.
Diverging –People who prefer to observe things from different perspectives and come up with imaginative solutions fall under this category. They like to assimilate information from different sources and are good at generating ideas. People with a diverging style of learning are good at working with teams and are open to feedback. They are good at arts, emotional, and are interested in people. Activities such as brainstorming ideas, group discussions, etc. interest them.
People with an Assimilating style prefer a logical approach to learning. They prefer a logical and clear explanation of concepts and theories, rather than practical experiments. Students with an assimilating learning style favor lectures, reading text and reference materials, analytical models, etc. that present information in a logical and analytical manner.
People with a practical bent of mind usually fall in this category. They use their learning to discover solutions for practical issues. It can help in making quick decisions and solve problems using their knowledge. They usually prefer technical tasks and are not interested in interpersonal aspects. People like to experiment with new ideas to develop practical applications of theoretical concepts.
Learners with accomodating styles prefer a hands-on approach to learning. They depend on their intuition or gut instinct rather than on logic to devise strategies to overcome challenges. They rely on people around them to collect information and use it to come up with their own conclusions.
In order to make the education system effective, it is crucial that teachers identify the learning styles of their students, and alter their teaching style to suit the learning preferences of each child. They should ensure that the lecture consists of some elements that appeal to children of different learning styles.
If a science teacher wants to teach students about seed germination, she should involve projects, real-life experimentation with seed germination, theoretical explanation of the concept, and class discussions to enable children to grasp the concept easily.
Apart from school, experiential education can also be used as a supplementary method to help the children identify their talents and shortcomings, and come up with strategies to overcome them.
Parents can enroll their children in experiential learning workshops and activities to provide them with opportunities to explore new skills and talents. They have to choose the activities that suit the learning style and aptitude of their children. These programs help to develop leadership abilities, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and physical fitness in children and help to keep them engaged in a productively.
However, it is crucial to choose a reputed and trustworthy organization that provides holistic experiential learning programs. Pencil Voyages is a well-known name in experiential education. We offer different short-term, and long-term programs to suit the busy schedule of the children and parents.
Experiential Education at Pencil Voyages:
Experiential learning has many long-term benefits. It contributes to the formation of long-lasting behavioral patterns that help to achieve success. Pencil voyages conduct experiential education workshops at different centers throughout the country.
Our experiential learning workshops help children to develop valuable life skills and improve their communication skills. Children learn through hands-on activities and interesting games that foster learning.
We also conduct nature camps, adventure camps, STEM tours, international study tours, and field visits for students. These camps and visits provide exposure to the students and widen their thinking capabilities to make them industry-ready.
Get in touch with our representatives to know more about experiential education workshops and trips.