Experiential learning is taking a concept from the works of John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Carl Jung, Kurt Lewin, and William James, where experiential learning is that the center of learning is experience. William James had the idea of radical empiricism which means integrating two major streams in western philosophy, the empirical stream, and the rationalist stream. That idea is based on William James’ belief that all human beings have experiences and all knowledge begins with experience, and the way that human beings know something is true is that comes back and is proven through the experience itself. In other words, experience learning puts learning at the center of the learning process, and as a learner, the learner’s experience guides how the learners learn and says when the learners have learned something. The exciting thing about experiential learning is when the learners’ experience is the center of the learning process, the learners have full control of it. And the learner is able to take initiative and create the kinds of experiences for the learners themselves and leading to learning for the learners. David Kolb’s theory of experiential learning provides a helpful framework for understanding how reflection helps us make sense of our experiences.
The cycle starts with Concrete Experience, which is something that the learners experience by doing something that is related to the subject. During and after the concrete experience, the learner will reflect on what the learners did, what went well, and what did not go so well. This phase will demand learners to reflect from multiple perspectives and the factors that are involved during the concrete experience, this phase is called Reflective Observation or RO.
The experience often results in new ideas or conceptualizations that shape our learning about a practice called Abstract Conceptualization or AC. In abstract conceptualization, the learners will generate a new understanding of the learners themselves and the practices that inform the way the learners work. The AC is also known as the integration phase.
Based on the new ideas from the AC phase, the learners will be trying out the new ideas or conceptualization as part of the learning process. This phase is also called Active Experimentation or AE. During the AE phase, the learners will test out the implication and validity of the new understanding in the real world and come to integrate new approaches into their practice repertoire. This cyclical process of experiential learning is often repeated to see what happens because of our adaptations. This process enables any learners to think about the new experience, reflect further, draw new conclusions, and perhaps decide to adapt to one’s practice again.