What is Experiential Learning? - Definition, Theories & Examples

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  • 0:01 Defining Experiential Learning
  • 0:25 Role & Competencies
  • 0:53 Criteria
  • 1:21 Examples
  • 2:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what experiential learning is and how to apply it in your classroom. Learn about experiential learning theories. View the lesson, then take a quiz to test your new knowledge.

Defining Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a method of educating through first-hand experience. Skills, knowledge, and experience are acquired outside of the traditional academic classroom setting, and may include internships, studies abroad, field trips, field research, and service-learning projects.

The concept of experiential learning was first explored by John Dewey and Jean Piaget, among others. It was made popular by education theorist David A. Kolb, who, along with Ron Fry, developed the experiential learning theory, which is based on the idea that learning is a process whereby knowledge is created through transformation of experience. It is based on four main elements which operate in a continuous cycle during the learning experience:

  • Concrete experience
  • Reflective observation
  • Abstract conceptualization
  • Active experimentation

Criteria for Experiential-Learning Assignments

The components of experiential-learning assignments vary to some degree, but generally follow the following criteria:

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