Whenever experiential learning is involved, default behaviour will pop up (it’s there, you can’t deny it) and this will provide a great mirror for what people think that is true.
For us the importance of experiential learning lies in the fact that it’s singular as a means of drawing theory and practice together. It involves action learning and time for reflection. It involves the emotional aspects of learning. More over it incorporates the various cultural, social and environmental aspects of the people we are working with.
With the use of experiential exercises we’re basically bypassing the rational process. Staying on a rational level seems a comfortable place for a lot of people. Tragically this is exactly the place where we are so masterful in deceiving ourselves. In our courses this would translate in phrases like: “What a great concept, but that’s not me”. Or: “Yes I recognize that, but it only happens when I’m tired”.
It’s generally recognized that experiential learning plays a major role in personal and culture change
Benefits of experiential learning:
Makes learning relatable to participants: Building on what leaders already know and providing them with opportunities to make connections between new concepts and existing ones.
Increases the effectiveness of learning: Challenged in critical thinking, acquiring problem solving skills and engaging in decision making.
Links theory to practice: Our leaders engage in the experience and practice in real time new concepts. Participants get a feel for the application of the theoretical concepts. Process that application and reflect on how to use these concepts in their daily reality.
Increases participants engagement: By encouraging collaboration and scaffolding between learners.
Assists in memory retention: Building strong relationships between feeling and thinking processes. Participants have the capacity to learn successfully when information is associated with values and feelings.
Leads to development of skills for lifelong learning: Assisting in the acquisition of essential skills and encouraging participants to reflect, conceptualize, and plan for next steps.
"Experiential learning... is synonymous with ‘meaningful-discovery’ learning... which involves the learner in sorting things out for himself [sic] by restructuring his perceptions of what is happening"