The definition of experiential learning is in its name—it’s all about the experience.
An immersive, engaging approach to education, experiential learning focuses on real-world experiences and practical knowledge.
Choosing a course can be difficult. There are so many activities to choose from, ranging from field exercises to hands-on lab experiments.
In this article, we’ll discuss options for experiential learning courses—along with a few examples—to help you decide which course or activity is right for you.
Choosing a learning style
When choosing an activity, first consider the type of experiential learning that works best for you. Your choice will largely depend on your personal learning style.
For example, do you prefer observing a situation, taking notes, and coming to your own conclusions about the topic? Or do you prefer to engage with the content with your own hands, testing and tinkering?
If you’re the reflective, imaginative type—and consider yourself a people person—you’ll benefit from brainstorming and working in groups.
If you prefer creating models, theories, and adapting to new observations, you’ll likely enjoy designing experiments and projects.
Maybe you prefer the practical approach, solving problems in a hands-on way. Perhaps you tend towards technical problems rather than emotional or interpersonal issues. If that’s the case, choose an activity involving building, crafting, and creating.
Lastly, if you work through trial and error—trying original approaches and seeing if they work—choose activities involving experimentation and discovery.
Of course, if you’re keen to challenge yourself, you can try an activity that doesn’t match your preferred learning style. Feeling especially daring? Try an activity that’s the complete opposite of what you’d normally pick.
Experiential learning examples
One popular type of experiential learning is known as ‘service learning’. You might enjoy this type of education if you enjoy collaboration and building interpersonal relationships.
Service learning activities are similar to community service, but with specific objectives and goals. Students will research and reflect upon the activity and learn from their experiences. Here are a few examples:
- Raising money to fund a school dance
- Giving art lessons to young children
- Preparing meals at a homeless shelter
If you prefer building and creating, consider:
- Designing and building a 3D model
- Creating a mnemonic to remember a concept
- Creating a phone app
- Fieldwork or internships
If you’re all about theories and concepts—or learning through trial and error—try:
- Testing and proving a scientific theory through experimentation
- Undergraduate research activities
- Presenting evidence in a mock trial
Experiential learning benefits
Through experiential learning, students focus not only on the result of a project—and achieving a final grade—but on the entire process of planning, preparing, creating, evaluating, and reflecting.
This innovative approach allows students to:
- Fully grasp concepts and better engage with the subject matter
- Reflect on the learning process
- Learn from mistakes
- Get creative
- Direct their learning pathway
- Gain real-world experience
- Become career-ready
Experiential learning challenges students through hands-on, practical, and immersive learning experiences. Popular activities include studying abroad, internships, and undergraduate research
With your new knowledge about experiential learning and the different courses available, you should have no trouble choosing a course to kickstart your career.