The experiential learning theory is a holistic philosophy and a method in which I utilize to develop my skills, knowledge and values from experiences that are outside of any traditional academic settings I place myself in. Grady (2003) discussed Dewey’s theory as it pertained to the contrary of experiential learning, “…traditional education knowledge is something that is predetermined and controlled beyond the influence of the students” (p.2). I am a lifelong learner and according to Dewey’s theory, “… learning from experiential education facilitates the ability to be a life-long learner… he asserts that extracting the full meaning from present experiences
allows students to do the same in future experiences” (Grady, 2003, p. 7). I am an experiential learner as I learn through my experiences. According to Kolb (1984), “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (McLeod, 2013).
My experiential learning incorporates decision making, accountability and gives me the ability to critically reflect on a subject or the world. I consider myself an eternal student who learns something new every day. My knowledge is acquired as Kolb (1984) described, “Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience”(Kolb, Boyatzis, & Mainemelis, 1999, p. 2). As a student I critically reflect, participate in social intellectual dialogue and apply creative thoughts to my learning. I learn from trial and error, by making mistakes and having successful moments within my life. My ideas are formed and re-formed through my experiences (Kolb, 1984, para. p. 26). As a student I am motivated to learn when I have prior knowledge and experience in a subject.
I can see my experiential learning through models of various theorists beginning with the Lewinian experiential learning process of feedback and goal directed learning based on the here and now experience. In a prior class I interviewed two individuals on the subject of gender bias in language for a research paper. After my concrete experience and note taking on what I observed, I was able to reflect in order to form generalizations resulting in testing my new knowledge in new experiences and situations because of the feedback I received. As Kolb (1984) noted, “…Lewin borrowed the concept of feedback from electrical engineering to describe a social learning and problem-solving process that generates valid information to assess deviations from desired goals” (p. 21).
Furthermore, Dewey’s model of the experiential theory incorporates learning by doing, learning from the real world, and by trial and error all of which helps me to learn. Grady (2003) commented, “…placing students into real life situations allows them to learn from their experiences and gain knowledge that they can apply later in different situations” (p.3). As an experiential learner it “…transforms the impulses, feelings, and desires of concrete experience into a higher-order purposeful action” (Kolb, 1984, p. 22).
Through the Piaget’s model of learning and cognitive development I am able to learn through discovery as I build upon prior knowledge and connect it to new knowledge resulting in understanding and joining to my present experience. I feel that as an experiential learner I have experienced the developmental stages as Kolb (1984) acknowledged, “Development from infancy to adulthood moves from a concrete phenomenal view of the world to an abstract constructionist view, from active egocentric view to a reflective internalized mode of knowing” (p.23). My learning develops through assimilation in which my new experiences are incorporated into existing schemes. There is a balance between assimilation and accommodation. My process of accommodation can be seen in my experience with my four cats. My cat Luna Shadow is the oldest in the house and likes to be picked up and held and rocked like a baby. I know how she likes to be picked without causing a fuss from prior experiences. Whereas, when I went to a friend’s house and tried play and pick up their older cat, she hissed at me. I discovered she did not like to be picked up.
Lastly, Kolb’s experiential learning theory can be seen in my internal reasoning. My learning styles incorporate Diverging (feeling and watching – CE/RO) and Accommodating (doing and feeling – CE/AE) as I am sensitive and I watch and collect data to problem solve. I am effective in brainstorming, have broad cultural interests and I am a hands on learner (McLeod, 2013, para.).
Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experiences as the source of learning and development. Retrieved from, http://academic.regis.edu/ed205/kolb.pdf
Kolb, D. A., Boyatzis, R. E. & Mainemelis, C. (1999). Experiential Learning Theory Previous Research and New Directions. Retrieved from,
McLeod, S. (2013). Kolb-Learning Styles. Retrieved from, http://www.simplypsychology.org/learning- kolb.html
Roberts, T. G.. (2003). An Interpretation of Dewey’s Experiential Learning Theory. Retrieved from, http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED481922.pdf