Experiential Learning

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A Hands-On Approach to Learning
What does experiential learning have to offer the student and professional? It may be helpful to give a brief history and description of the interdisciplinary learning modality.

1. What is experiential learning?
To put it into simple layman terms it is taking information received, and putting it into immediate practice or application.
Pioneer work in experiential education began in the 1920’s by German educator, Kurt Hahn. He proposed that the classical school curriculum was not enough for the development of the total student. His model has been refined over the years through what eventually became the “Outward Bound” outdoor adventure programs that are active today. In 1984,David Kolb, from the field of Psychology wrote a book entitled “Experiential Learning” and identifies two dimensions on how a person learns new information. First, how it is perceived, (concrete), and second how it is processed, (active –reflective).

2. How then does this differ from traditional learning?
It is found in the process that takes place between actual presentation, (of given information), and the actual experience of the newly acquired knowledge.

3. What do you mean by process?
This is where experience, (the comprehension of an object, thought, or emotion through the senses or mind; an event or series of events participated in personally), becomes the key driver of effective learning. The process becomes what we call the “teachable moment”. The recipient has moved from a passive observer, (of knowledge presented), and is now an active participant of the gained knowledge.

4. How does this translate or transfer into my professional or educational setting?
Experiential Learning is concerned with two relationship dynamics: interpersonal and intrapersonal. Interpersonal relationships refer to how people get along in a group, (two or more people). These include communication, cooperation, trust, conflict- resolution, problem-solving, leadership influence, etc. Intrapersonal relationships refer to how an individual gets along with self. These include self-concept, spirituality, confidence, self-efficacy, etc.
Often these relational dynamics may be lacking or altogether missing in the work or educational environment we serve and learn in. A change in behavior and thinking is essential. It is through the direct and purposeful exposure to a variety of experiential methods, props. and settings that healthy and productive change can occur for the participant. This may include but not limited to Play, Music, Art, and Kinesthetic, (body movement),Therapies, Psychodrama, Ropes Challenge Course Programs, Equine / Pet Therapy, Physical Education,Recreational Sports, Games and Initiatives, Adventure & Environmental Education, Indoor/Outdoor Team Building Exercises, Family & Parenting Education and Support Group Work.
Thus, the purpose of Experiential Learning Model is to bring about awareness for these positive changes and how they can be transferred to real life experiences back in an individual's community, family, workplace, school and Faith community.

Translation of this change process may look like the following "measurable outcomes" : (Note: These scenarios serve only as suggestions and are obviously interchangeable with each group setting)

Business Community:
· Improved Job Performance · Effective Communication
· Strategic Planning · Team Cohesion · Strong Workgroup Moral


Social Service Programs:
· Positive Self-Concept · Life Skill Development · Problem-Solving
· Conflict Resolution · Anger Management · Social Skills

Education Systems:
· Improved Critical Thinking & Decision Making · Respect
·Cooperation · Leadership Skills · Enthusiasm & Motivation

Clinical Settings:
·Goal Setting · Interdependence ·Treatment/Recovery Planning
· Self Reliance · Parenting & Family Skill Development

Church or Faith Community:
· Spiritual Formation ·Trust Building · Vision
· Building Community · Cultural Awareness

Health Care:
· Physical Rehabilitation · Pain & Stress Management
· Health Maintenance · Self-Expression · Recovery Planning

Outdoor/Indoor Recreational Programs:
· Kinesthetic Wellness · Physical Fitness · Responsibility
· Physical Skill Development · Team Building