Experiential Learning

A way of learning in which the learner constructs meaning from his/her personal experiences; it is learning through reflection on doing. Experiential learning requires qualities such as self-initiative and self-evaluation. The process of experiential learning requires that students: 1) be actively involved in the experience; 2) reflect on the experience; 3) analyze and conceptualize the experience, and 4) use decision- making and problem-solving skills in order to apply new ideas gained from the experience (Kolb, 1984).  Experiential learning can be a highly effective educational method as it engages students at a personal level in the learning process. Incorporating experiential learning into a course or curriculum provides opportunities for students to learn directly from experience and for educators to accommodate learners with different types of learning styles and strengths. The role of the educator is to create an experiential learning environment and facilitate the learning process. Powerful learning can take place when students are immersed totally in the learning situation, and the facilitators assists them to gain new knowledge from their peers and the environment created.

Evidence Base for Experiential Learning:

Articles and Websites

Itin, C. M. (1999). “Reasserting the Philosophy of Experiential Education as a Vehicle for Change in the 21st Century.” The Journal of Experiential Education. 22(2), 91-98.

Kolb, David A. and Fry, R. (1975). “Toward an Applied Theory of Experiential Learning.” In C. Cooper (Ed.), Theories of Group Process. London: John Wiley.

Smith, M. K. (2001). ‘David A. Kolb on Experiential Learning,” The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved 11/2/2012  from  http://www.infed.org/biblio/b-explrn.htm


Wilderdom Outdoor Education.  See  http://www.wilderdom.com/experiential/ Experiential Learning & Experiential Education: Philosophy, Theory, Practice & Resources


Kolb, David A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., and Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: a Comprehensive Guide. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.