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What is Experiential Learning?

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is innate: everyone of us has benefited from the approach in innumerable situations (just think about how people learn to talk and walk). Consequently it provides trainers and facilitators with a tried and tested approach which can be implemented in all sorts of situations with people from all walks of life, there being no barriers due to age, education, experience, ability, background or culture.

What is the definition of experiential learning?

Experiential learning can be defined as:

"developing personal understanding, knowledge, skills and attitudes through the analysis of, and reflection on, activity".

In this definition 'Activity' can include anything from an individual explaining an idea or completing a simple task to highly complex group interactions involving a wide range of mental attributes and behaviours. This definition emphasises two important points:

Experiential learning is an active process which engages the learner, not a passive process that happens to the learner.

In experiential learning the experience provides the platform for learning, whilst the careful analysis and reflection of the experience develops the learning.

What makes experiential learning special?

Experiential learning is an active process which engages the learner, not a passive process that happens to the learner. In ‘experiential learning’ the experience provides the platform for learning, whilst the careful analysis and reflection of the experience develops the learning. Individuals are encouraged to work things out for themselves, they are guided to and through their learning rather than being taught. The learning individuals develop is appropriate for them: it is implicit in the approach that there are no ‘right ways of thinking’, ‘set rules, or ‘perfect behaviours’ that anyone has to learn and apply. The commitment developed by the learner to make best use of their learning: they are central to the learning process, it is their learning.

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