Experiential Learning: Helping Students Apply Their Knowledge
The Impact of the Pandemic on Learning Opportunities
The pandemic took away many of our opportunities - seeing family and friends, travelling, going out for dinner, or trying new hobbies. It limited our range of accessible activities, and this affected everyone, especially children. As we move forward out of the pandemic, we realise the benefits of real-life learning opportunities that support and connect to the academics within the classroom. For far too long, rote and didactic methods have been used, and the learning has not been student-centred, meaning students have taken a passive role in their education. With the opportunities that experiential learning creates, students take an active role in their learning and drive the way forward.
- Experiential Learning Connects Classroom Knowledge to Real-Life Experiences
Students who have the opportunity to explore and apply the data and knowledge learned in the classroom in a real-life experience have a chance to connect with it, and therefore it becomes more real to them. It is tangible, they are in control, and they are playing an active role.
- Developing Communication and Problem-Solving Skills Through Experiential Learning
Experiential learning also gives students a chance to develop communication and problem-solving skills. In an ever-changing world where we are preparing students for jobs that do not exist yet, these skills are becoming even more essential. Students learn to work through the frustrations of making mistakes helping them to become more resilient, creative, and confident. These are skills that they can take advantage of and apply in all areas of their lives.
- Creating a Connection and Passion for Learning Through Experiential Learning
As educators, we know that students engage more in the learning process when it is an area of passion and personal interest. These learning experiences create a connection for students and help to retain that knowledge and understanding. Sir Richard Branson said, “You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over.”
- Creating Opportunities for Experiential Learning
The wonderful thing about experiential learning theory is that it does not have to be some elaborate experience, but it does have to be intentional. Kindergarten students looking at plants and how plants grow could apply their knowledge to a simple campus walk to look at the plants growing around them. Guest speakers, parents, and colleagues are often a wonderful wealth of knowledge and a resource that you can use to create a real-life connection for students. Creating a community of opportunities for students to tap into allows students to explore the world around them as their knowledge grows and their understanding deepens. Field trips and site visits also submerge students in a new experience - this creates a tangible connection to the theory from the classroom and lifelong memories that they will cherish. It is powerful to give students opportunities to find their passion, grow their knowledge and take charge of their learning.
- The Importance of Reflection in Experiential Learning
One of the most important aspects of experiential learning is the reflection process. By reflecting on the experience, students engage in higher-level thinking processes that enable them to make stronger connections with the material. Again, this is a life skill that empowers students and one that future employers are looking for. The reflection process often allows students to choose how they are going to engage in their findings and their audience in sharing their experiences. It prompts them to think critically and enhance communication skills they may need to be more comfortable with. The reflection process allows educators to nudge, prompt, and model the reflective process. Educators can tease out wonderings, assumptions, predictions, connections, and clarifications during conversations with students, allowing for more connection with the content to build.
- The Role of Experiential Learning in Creating Positive Changes in the World
The world is at a pivotal moment in history and has the opportunity to introduce changes because of the pandemic. Experiential education has an important part to play in that. Experiential learning puts students at the forefront of their learning, it is the driving force behind it. It helps students develop socially, emotionally, and academically, allowing them to really deepen their understanding of the complex world around them. If students understand the real world better, have more opportunities to work in the real world, and problem-solve to find solutions in the real world, then that will only lead to positive changes and a better world for everyone!
Literacy Coach and EL Coordinator