Jeremy Tzi Dong NG, Nora Patricia HERNÁNDEZ LÓPEZ, Monaliza Maximo CHIAN
While we have the capacity to grow and learn in our lifetime, meaningful learning occurs when we are exposed to experiences (Miettinen, 2000; Morris, 2020). Drawing on prominent scholarship on human learning and development (Kolb & Kolb, 2005), experiential learning (EL) is a process that hinges on the idea that learners, as active participants, develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes through directly, consciously, and iteratively engaging in and critically reflecting on experience (Coker et al., 2017; Morris, 2020). Grounded in John Dewey’s conceptualisation of learning as a social and contextualised process of knowledge construction (Miettinen, 2000), EL requires learners’ authentic inquiry to real-world problems, exposing them to novel, challenging yet empowering and practical experiences (Morris, 2020). In relation to real-life practices in society, EL is also characterised by collaborative participation in social activities, whereby learners play a responsive role and sometimes take collective responsibility over the learning process (Williams & Sembiante, 2022).
Different from traditional pedagogies where knowledge is transmitted to learners, EL entails that knowledge is created through contextually rich experience (Lee, 2019). Among the various models of EL (e.g., Kolb & Kolb, 2005), critical reflection in the EL process often serves as a defining feature that facilitates EL (Harfitt & Chow, 2018; Morris, 2020). The learning outcomes of EL vary from one programme to another, though the stimulation of both intellectual and socioemotional experiences can help students develop both hard skills and soft skills (Coker et al., 2017).
EL was first developed for adult education and management training (Miettinen, 2000), but has since been used in many different educational settings. EL has been used in traditional classroom settings for disciplinary (Chan, 2012) as well as interdisciplinary studies (Chiu, 2019). Outdoor education also embraces EL through field trips and other informal learning institutions (e.g., museums) (Harfitt & Chow, 2018; Goff et al., 2018). In tertiary education, EL is often implemented through internships, service learning programmes, immersion and foreign exchange programmes, and undergraduate research experiences (Coker et al., 2017). These various contexts illustrate how EL can be adapted to meet different teaching and learning needs.
In particular, there is also a pool of studies in teacher education (Harfitt & Chow, 2018), focusing on teaching practicum as an EL component for pre-service teachers to gain field-based experience in pedagogical applications and classroom practices (Lee, 2019). Extant studies have also particularly called for more attention and efforts on how educators can be trained to improve their competence in facilitating EL (Morris, 2020).
Recent advancement in digital technologies and the pandemic-induced challenges have inspired and motivated technology-supported/enhanced delivery of students’ EL experience. For instance, immersive reality technologies (e.g., virtual reality, augmented reality) have been increasingly leveraged to offer learners the opportunities to participate in simulation-based experiential learning in a virtual and immersive way (Goff et al., 2018).
Below are some relevant and timely resources that raise issues, considerations, and challenges as we understand the concept of experiential learning.
Goff, E. E., Mulvey, K. L., Irvin, M. J., & Hartstone-Rose, A. (2018). Applications of augmented reality in informal science learning sites: A review. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 27, 433-447.
Lee, J. F. K. (2019). Experiential teacher education -- Preparing preservice teachers to teach English grammar through an experiential learning project. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 44(1).
Highly-Cited Academic Articles
Publications in/about the Region
Kang, D. Y., & Martin, S. N. (2018). Improving learning opportunities for special education needs (SEN) students by engaging pre-service science teachers in an informal experiential learning course. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 38(3), 319-347.
Liao, F., Murphy, D., Wu, J. C., Chen, C. Y., Chang, C. C., & Tsai, P. F. (2022). How technology-enhanced experiential e-learning can facilitate the development of person-centred communication skills online for health-care students: A qualitative study. BMC Medical Education, 22, 60.
Singh, E. P., Doval, J., Kumar, S., & Khan, M. M. S. (2022). Investigating the impact of full-term experiential learning project on management graduates: An emerging economy perspective. Review of International Business and Strategy, 32(4), 677-694.
Tsunematsu, N. (2022). Agency, autonomy, and power of international students in interactions with local society in Japan through an experiential learning project. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education.
School Examples and Resources
HKU Scholarship and Resources
Wang, J. S. H., Chui, C. H. K., Jordan, L., & Chan, K. S. K. (2022). An experiential learning-based integrated policy advocacy education model in Hong Kong: What works in a non-Western and partial democratic context? Journal of Social Work Education, 58(2), 346-364.
Moorhouse, B. L. (2018). Taking an active role in our pre-service teachers’ overseas teaching experiences: A report on an experiential learning project in China. Journal of Education for Teaching, 44(2), 241-242.