What Is Experiential Learning and Why Is It Important?


Any good educator will tell you that students learn better when the subject matter bears some real-world significance.

Practice exercises, like 8th grade science projects, make learning more personal, unlike theory lessons.

As a result, modern teachers have begun seeking and integrating more active learning approaches such as experiential learning into the curriculum.

What Is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is the process of learning through reflection on doing or learning through experience.

When students take on practical learning activities and reflect on them, they can easily connect the concepts learned in class to real-life occurrences.

Some examples of experiential learning include:

  • Undergraduate research
  • Community service
  • Capstone projects
  • Service-learning

Why is Experiential Learning the Future of Learning?

About a century ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist formulated the learning curve, a concept which described the relationship between memory and time.

Hermann’s findings implied that a person with a 100% retention capacity loses 50-80% of learning after the second day. In a month, that person will remember only 2-3% of what they learned.

Again, education systems have prioritized rote and didactic learning methods since the industrial revolution. Due to the restriction to passive learning, these methods are gradually becoming inefficient in preparing children for today’s dynamic and fast-changing workplace.

Experiential learning is becoming more common in educational institutes because of its wide array of benefits.

Benefits of Experiential Learning

Does the teacher who assigns 8th grade science projects merely wasting time, or are they positively impacting the student’s mental development?

Here’s how experiential learning benefits learners.

1. Helps them Grasp Concepts Easily

Experiential learning accelerates learning by helping the brain form great neural connections through practice.

Studies show that hands-on activities increase a student’s engagement. Ultimately, repeating the drill, solving problems, and making decisions boost learning and improves retention capacity.

Besides, experiential learning creates real-world relevance, allowing students to apply concepts and data to real-world situations. This interaction makes learning easier.

2. It Boosts Creativity

Often, the best way to solve a problem is to tackle it hands-on. As such, experiential learning is an excellent way to teach students to find creative solutions to their problems.

Challenges in the real world have multiple solutions. Therefore, allowing students to engage the creative portions of their brain, seeking answers to complex solutions enhances the learning experience.

3. Allows Students to Reflect

Learning is all about building strong neural connections with information.

When students integrate abstract ideas with concrete experiences, then reflect on the outcome, their brain forms a resolute connection with the material, enhancing learning.

Experiential learning encourages scholars to analyze how their actions impact an issue and how the result might vary from their counterparts. Consequently, the analysis helps the student grasp how the learned concept can be applied to different circumstances.

4. Students Learn from Their Mistakes

As pupils undertake practical exercises, they realize that some approaches work better than others.

When they make a mistake – try an approach, find it doesn’t work, abandon it, then find a solution that works, the student learns a valuable lesson. They learn to value a mistake instead of fearing it.

Do you want to expose your students to experiential learning opportunities? You can do this by organizing off-site school trips and adding project-based learning events to the curriculum.

What’s more, the Adobe Education Exchange contains numerous experiential learning resources that you can use to prepare your students for the future.


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