10 Jun 2015

How do we define Experiential Education?

How do we define Experiential Education?

Author: Ricardo Valdez  /  Categories: Education  / 

Experiential education in essence is defined as learning activities outside the traditional classroom environment, which are mutually agreed upon and planned by the both the instructor and student. Experiential learning may take on many different forms such as internships, service learning, co-operative education, field experience, practicum, capstone projects, cross-cultural experiences and apprenticeships (Kolb, 1984; Linn, 1999; McElhaney, 1998). According to Linn, although the setting may be different, they all include steps like “planning, training, monitoring, reflecting and evaluating” (p.26).

According to the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE), there are eight principals of good practice for all experiential learning activities.  These include:

  1. Intention: All parties must be clear why the experience is the chosen approach to the learning that is to take place and to the knowledge that will be demonstrated. Intention represents the purposefulness that enables experience to become knowledge.
  2. Preparedness and Planning: There must be a sufficient foundation to support a successful experience. It is crucial that the objectives and activities are defined at the earliest stages.
  3. Authenticity: The experience must have a real-world context and/or be useful and meaningful in reference to an applied setting or situation. 
  4. Reflection: This is an extremely key component of experiential education. It is the element that transforms a simple experience to a learning experience. A reflective process is integral to all phases of experiential learning, form identifying intention and choosing the experience, to considering preconceptions and observing how they change as the experience unfolds.
  5. Orientation and Training: It is important that the learner, facilitator and any organizational partners have important background information about each other and about the context and environment in which the experience will operate.
  6. Monitoring and Continuous Improvement: All parties involved should be accountable to each other for ensuring that the experience, as it is in process, continues to provide the richest learning possible, while affirming the learner.
  7. Assessment and Evaluation: Outcomes and processes should be systematically documented with regard to initial intentions and quality outcomes. 
  8. Acknowledgement: Recognition of learning and impact should occur throughout the experience by way of reflection, reporting and monitoring. All parties to the experience should be included in the recognition of progress and accomplishment.

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