The Advantages of Experiential Learning


Engaging learners

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”

This quote of Confucius, a Chinese philosopher and politician, leads the foundation of one of the most comprehensive and successful teaching methodologies, which is experiential learning.

Also known as “Hands-on Learning”, experiential learning is a teaching methodology that found its place in the works of Ancient Greek Philosophers. Around 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote in Nicomachean Ethics, “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory

David A. Kolb, an American psychologist, professor and educational theorist further developed the most articulated and scientific experiential learning model in 1984. He found that “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”[1] . Over a period, this learning model has gained more prominence. It integrates the most comprehensive components of learning: experience, reflection, conceptualisation (understand), and experimentation.

Concrete Experience (CE)

Learners gain concrete experience by participating in a complex task/activity, which is set in a rich context. The nature of the experience may be defined in a subtle way, due to which learners need to make decisions based on wide-range of available information. Overall, the best scenario for helping learners learn is by enabling them to learn by doing.

Reflective Observation (RO)

Learners reflect on the consequences of decisions and compare their experience with the prior experiences and understandings about the issues raised while gaining new experience.

 Abstract Conceptualisation (AC)

Reflection of own work gives rise to a new idea. It modifies the existing abstract concept. In other words, learning by doing helps learners do abstract conceptualization and gain better insights into their work.

Active Experimentation (AE)

After completing a task/activity, learners develop zeal to experiment with their finding/hypothesis in their daily lives. In a nutshell, active experimentation by learners helps them judge accomplishments as well as failures.

According to Kolb’s theory, learning is a cyclical process that involves four stages, which he describes as the experiential learning cycle. The four stages are:

David Kolb's Learning Cycle

But Why Experiential Learning?

Many people are reporting that the availability of online engagement whether a proliferation of daily meetings, webinars or other Zoom type activities means that they have to be selective when managing time and attending webinar or training events. When considering training courses, its important to engage learners with interactive and relevant learning that has been carefully designed or planned.

We believe that bespoke immersive experiential learning is arguably one of the better ways to ensure engagement and to embed learning. To enhance learner engagement and business productivity, there is a need to build an ecosystem, which ensures learner/employee participation, retention, and growth. However, it is also important to realise that engagement cannot be commanded, it can only be cultivated.

The only way to cultivate the culture of engagement is to uplift the employees’ knowledge base. Employees need to analyse their purpose. The workplace culture needs a paradigm shift. This fundamental shift can be achieved by aligning experiential learning with corporate training.

By adopting experiential learning methodology and incorporating it with highly sophisticated and technologically enabled eLearning makes a perfect learning environment. It also enhances the learning experience of learners. This strategy has the potential for appealing the learners. Moreover, assessing learners’ within this training framework is much more scientific and measurable.

[1] Extract from ‘Experiential Learning Plus Online Learning Equals Enhanced Learner Engagement’ by Manish Kumar 2019