The Importance of Learning Styles: Understanding the Implications for Learning, Course Design, and Education

By Serbrenia J. Sims; Ronald R. Sims | Go to book overview

9
Experiential Learning: Preparing Students to Move from the Classroom to the Work Environment

Serbrenia J. Sims

When most of us think about the concept of experiential learning and its applications to higher education, ideas of co-operative education, internships, community service-learning, field studies, cross-cultural programs, and practicurn immediately come to mind. Yet experiential learning goes far beyond these hands-on experiences that are designed to prepare students for their future work environment. Experiential learning involves a directed process of student initiated questioning, investigating, reflecting, and conceptualizing based on experiences both in and outside the formal classroom setting. Key to its success as a learning tool is the active involvement of students in the learning process. Students are free to choose and directly experience the consequences of their learning choices.

Hutchings and Wutzdorff ( 1988) substantiate findings that students are unable to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the actual work environment. This gap in application of knowledge has often been blamed on an inadequate education offered by colleges and universities, when in fact it might be more appropriate to attribute the shortcomings of our educational system to the students and their passive as opposed to active involvement in their educational experience. In the past, emphasis has been placed solely on changing the educational offerings and increasing the number of resources (such as library holdings, computers, and faculty) available to students in an effort to address the question of inadequate education. The purpose of this chapter is to offer some suggestions on how to correct the problem of the link between classroom learning and the work environment by

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