Updated: Feb 28
Experiential learning can be essential to educating younger students. And it makes sense why that is the case. It's not always easy to learn in a classroom. With a variety of learning styles and varying skill sets, it can be necessary to switch up the lesson plan. Giving students the chance to learn by
doing and get their hands dirty will involve them more in their education. Not only that, it'll give them a great story to tell!
Some concepts can be tough to communicate. And even when they are taught, it can be hard to know when or where they will use these skills in a concrete setting. With experiential learning, students will have the ability to do the task, watch and reflect on the experience, learn the concepts and then test out those concepts in a controlled environment. According to the Association for Experiential Education (AEE), experiential educational experiences are "structured to require the learner to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results". They should be challenging and exciting. They should be applicable to the student's life. The experiences should help students come up with their own concepts and test them out. And it should provide the student with the opportunity to discuss the ideas, gain perspective from others, and internalize their experiences.
The University of North Texas's Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research lists several types of classroom-based experiential learning exercises. Adding gaming elements to a lesson, like splitting the class into teams to compete in a "Jeopardy" style contest can be a fun way to test students on their knowledge and allow them to work together in a team setting and solve problems. Simulations and role-playing exercises can also be incorporated into the classroom and allow students to try out different methods to accomplish a goal in a controlled environment. You can find out more about their suggested methods by clicking here.
One of the main types of experiential learning outside of the classroom is the study abroad. Students will be able to learn in a new environment and be immersed in a new culture. Coming up with a way to navigate these new environments will expand the student's critical thinking skills outside of their comfort zone. Then, for older students, there is the internship which allows them to work in their field of interest and gain experience in the day-to-day responsibilities of that role. No matter what age your student is, experiential learning can help students gain positive experiences and build on what they've already been taught.
For those who are looking for an experiential learning opportunity, we have something just for you! Nova X-STREAM will be taking part in the STEM Discover: London (extension to Paris) trip for students of all ages. It's an 11-day tour that will give students the opportunity to explore the city and investigate STEM topics firsthand. Students will get the chance to investigate crime scenes and learn concepts like code-breaking and get the opportunity to gaze at the stars. The link is here if you want to learn more and come to our first informational meeting on Thursday, March 10 @ 6:00 pm!
There's no way to know what kind of learning will work the best for your student. Especially since no two students learn exactly the same way. But learning by doing can be the best way to help students retain concepts and connect them to their lives and, possibly, their future careers. After all, as adults, they will learn from experience every single day. Why not start now?
“Experiential Learning - NIU - Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.” Northern Illinois University, https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide/experiential-learning.shtml.
Hausburg, Taylor. “Getting Started with Experiential Learning.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 17 Apr. 2019, https://www.edutopia.org/article/getting-started-experiential-learning.
Kolb, David A. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Pearson Education, 2021. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235701029_Experiential_Learning_Experience_As_The_Source_Of_Learning_And_Development
“Experiential Learning " Center for Teaching & Learning: Boston University.” Center for Teaching Learning RSS, https://www.bu.edu/ctl/guides/experiential-learning/.
What Is Experiential Education - Association for Experiential Education, https://www.aee.org/what-is-experiential-education.
“Active and Experiential Learning: Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.” Active and Experiential Learning | Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, 5 Jan. 1970, https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/teaching/teaching-how/chapter-4-increasing-critical-thinking-and-motivation/active-and-experiential-learning.
“Untunt Teaching Commons.” UNT, https://teachingcommons.unt.edu/teaching-essentials/engaged-learning/creating-experiential-learning-experiences-classroom.
The Benefits of Experiential Learning, https://www.envisionexperience.com/blog/the-benefits-of-experiential-learning.