What is an Experiential Learning program?
Experiential learning programs purposefully engage students with direct experiences that challenge participants to take active roles in the learning process. Experiential learning programs are:
The intent of an experience should be clear from the beginning. Sufficient planning makes these intentions obvious to the learners. Students who are involved need to have sufficient foundation for the experience. This guided experience involves engagement from both the participant and the facilitator.
Reflection is the element that transforms simple experience to a learning experience. For knowledge to be discovered and internalized, the learner must test assumptions about the outcomes of their work. Reflection should happen throughout the process and can be used to adjust the educational experience.
Any learning activity will be dynamic and changing, and both the participant and the facilitator share responsibility for ensuring that the experience in process continues to provide the richest learning possible. It is vital that there be a feedback loop related to learning intentions. The structure of the experience should be sufficiently flexible to permit change in response to what the feedback suggests.
Outcomes should be systematically documented with regard to assumptions and outcomes. All parties should be included. Assessment is a means to develop and refine learning goals, while evaluation provides comprehensive qualitative and quantitative data about the process.
The principles of experiential education practice at the University of Kansas are based on the Eight Principles of Good Practice as identified by the National Society for Experiential Education.