Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is the Science Technology & Environmental Literacy (STEL) Experiential Learning (EL) Project?
A: The EL project's goal is to increase awareness, knowledge and use of experiential learning, the learning cycle, and inquiry. The project team has developed a series of three workshops, for use with 4-H leaders, ANR advisors, specialists and staff, and other clientele such as after-school program educators.
Q: What is Experiential Learning?
A: There are various definitions of Experiential Learning. Here are several definitions with references:
Q: What distinguishes EL from other types of learning?
A: Experiential education is a philosophy and methodology in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values. From the AEE (Association for Experiential Education) Website: http://www.aee.org/ndef.html
Q: Is there a difference between learning by doing/hands-on learning and experiential learning?
A: "What differentiates true experiential learning from simply learning by doing is the reflective processing that takes place after the doing." From the "Heads-on, hands-on: the power of Experiential Learning" handbook from 4-H CCS
Q: What is the history of EL?
A: See "History and Links to EL Resources"
Q: When is EL an appropriate strategy for educators, and is it an effective method for all educational situations?
A: Experiential learning is a teaching methodology where focus is placed on the process of learning and not the product of learning. Experiential learning is learner and activity centered and creates an environment where learners can reflect and apply their experience to real world situations.
However participating in an experience is not enough, and in order for an activity to truly be called experiential, it needs to encompass the following elements:
Perform or do an activity with little to no help from the facilitator/teacher. Examples might include: making products or models; role-playing; giving a presentation; problem-solving; playing a game.
Publicly share the results, reactions and observations. Get the participants to talk about their experience. Share reactions and observations. Discuss feelings generated by the experience. Let the group (or individual) talk freely and acknowledge the ideas they generate.
Discussing, analyzing, reflecting, looking at the experience. Discuss how the experience was carried out. Discuss how themes, problems, and issues are brought out by the experience. Discuss how specific problems or issues were addressed. Discuss personal experiences of members. Encourage the group to look for recurring themes.
Connect the experience with real world examples. Find general trends or common truths in the experience. Identify "real life" principles that surfaced. List key terms that capture the learning.
Apply what was learned to a similar or different situation, learn from past experiences, practice. Discuss how new learning can be applied to other situations. Discuss how issues raised can be useful in the future. Discuss how more effective behaviors can develop from the new learnings. Help each individual feel a sense of ownership for what was learned.
Experiential learning is a wonderful teaching method for engaging learners and getting them to think creatively. It requires letting go of "perfect" end products and embracing the experience of learning. It changes the role of the teacher to being a facilitator as opposed to the holder of information.
Q: Where can I learn more about EL? Do you have an EL bibliography that you can recommend?
A: Here are some websites with good information:
Experiential Learning Resources:
Q: Are there professional organizations of experiential educators?
A: Yes, here are a few you may want to consider.