WHAT IS EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING?
The person who learns with simulations, learning games and exercises in a variety of thematic subjects, gains artificial lifelike experience. This experience allows the learner to discover self, to learn by experiencing these themes and most importantly to internalize the experience. Experiential Training is based on the theory of learning by experience. A wide variety of theories have been developed by philosophers and pedagogues and David A. Kolb sat the general outline of the theory on the frame. The starting point of the theory extends to American philosopher John Dewey.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CYCLE
There are four basic stages in Experiential Learning Cycle.
- Firstly, participant has experience on the topic that is artificial or very close to reality.
- Then the whole group analyzes the experience and reflects on emotional responses.
- Then obtained implications are generalized to real-life and match with real facts and events.
- The information and awareness that is given by the experience that is associated with reality, becomes applied in a real situation and a new experience is obtained.
OVERVIEW OF THE THEORY OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
David Kolb explains Experiential Learning Theory as follow:
Experiential learning theory; is based on the works of the prominent scholars of the 20th century which put experience into center of learning and development. These scholars are; John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, William James, Carl Jung, Paulo Freire and Carl Rogers.
These scientists tried to develop a holistic experiential learning process and a multiple linear model for adult education. This theory has been shaped over six basic overtures.
1 Learning should be defined as a process, not as a result. To improve learning in formal education, that is needed to focus the learning types of the each student and to design a process with receiveing feedbacks from the students. As John Dewey said; “Education should be defined as the experience that is restructured in continuity way. The purpose and process of the training are one and the same.” (Dewey 1897:79)
2 The entire Learning is shaped on “re-learning”. Ideally, learning is facilitated by discovering of the beliefs and ideas of students on a topic. Thus, these ideas can be examined, tested, and can be integrated with new ideas.
3 For a good learning, that is required to resolve the dispute between the models which is difficult to adapt to real life. Discrepancies, differences and disputes are the elements which directing the learning process. People are asked to go back and forth between their thoughts, feelings, actions and expressions in the process of learning.
4 Learning is a holistic process that is adapted to real-life. Learning should include not only the result of comprehension but also a holistic integration that is reflecting on a person’s thoughts, feelings, judgments and behaviors.
5 Learning is a result of the synergy transfer between the person and the environment. In the words of Piaget; , learning is occurred when a dialectic balance takes place between new experiences to be transformed into existing concepts and the existing concepts to be associated with new experiences.
6 Learning is a process of creation of cognition. Experiential learning theory is a theory that approaches to learning in a structural way. Therefore, social cognition is created and re-created in the world of learner’s individual knowledge. This approach is an opposite approach to “classical transmission model” that forms the bases of the current educational practices and it is taught to learner fixed ideas which have existed all along.
Experiential Learning Theory;
Defines learning as the process that “transforms the experience into the knowledge”.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING & BRAIN FUNCTIONS
The founder of CWRU University Innovation in Education Center and biologist James Zull, builds a strong bond between Experiential Learning and the learning process of brain in his research about neurology and learning functions of brain.