Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Creating Experiential Learning

Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Creating Experiential Learning

Article excerpt

The mediocre teacher tells,

The good teacher ex


The superior teacher


The great teacher inspires!

As a field of practice, experiential learning is vast. If we look at the range, we see everything from farming to conflict resolution; from assessment to youth; from practical skill training to theoretical models; and from personal growth to workplace training and development. All are labeled experiential learning - all are present as being part of the experiential learning family.

So what is experiential learning? Experiential learning can be described as learning that arises out of reflection from an experience, leading to purposive action in order to test out the "hypothesis" that arise out of this reflection. This action, in turn, leads to further experience and reflection, so that experiential learning can be seen as continuous cycle or spiral.

Several authors have pointed out that experiential learning dates back beyond recorded history and remains pervasive in current society, whether formalized by educational institutions or occurring informally in day-to-day life. In this sense, experiential learning is not an alternative approach, but the most traditional and fundamental method of human learning.

In the early 1980s, Mezirow, Freire, and others stressed that the heart of all learning lied in the way we processed an experience, in particular, our critical reflection of the experience. They spoke of learning as a cycle that begins with experience, continues with reflection, and later leads to action, which itself becomes a concrete experience for reflection. For example, a teacher might have an encounter with an angry student who failed a test. This is the experience. Reflection of this experience would involve trying to explain it to oneself; comparing it to previous experiences to determine what is the same, and what is unique, analyzing it according to personal or institutional standards, and formulating a course of action connected to the experiences of others, such as talking to other teachers who have also faced angry students. …

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