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Experiential Learning

Angela Murphy, Emma Golden, Helen Wheeler, Julia Venesile

"Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience. Experiential learning activities can include, but are not limited to, hands-on laboratory experiments, internships, practicums, field exercises, study abroad, undergraduate research and studio performances."

Boston University- Center for Teaching and Learning

Experiential Learning Process

Experiential Learning has a muli-step process to make sure students are getting the most out of their education. There is a huge emphasis on actively engaging in an activity or experience, followed by relfection.


Instructor’s Role in Experiential Learning

  1. Be willing to accept a less teacher-centric role in the classroom.

  2. Approach the learning experience in a positive, non-dominating way.

  3. Identify an experience in which students will find interest and be personally committed.

  4. Explain the purpose of the experiential learning situation to the students.

  5. Share your feelings and thoughts with your students and let them know that you are learning from the experience too.

  6. Tie the course learning objectives to course activities and direct experiences so students know what they are supposed to do.

  7. Provide relevant and meaningful resources to help students succeed.

  8. Allow students to experiment and discover solutions on their own.

  9. Find a sense of balance between the academic and nurturing aspects of teaching.

  10. Clarify students’ and instructor roles.

Integrating Experiential Learning (EL) in Teaching

Plan- Plan the experience by tying it to the course learning objectives and determine what students will need to successfully complete the exercise (resources such as readings and worksheets, research, rubrics, supplies and directions to off-campus locations, etc.)

Prepare- After the planning has been completed, prepare materials, rubrics, and assessment tools and ensure that everything is ready before the experience begins.

Facilitate- The instructor should commence the experience. Guide students through the process of finding and determining solutions for themselves.

Evaluate- Success of an experiential learning activity can be determined during discussions, reflections and a debriefing session.


 “People never learn anything by being told; they have to find out for themselves.” – Paulo Coelho

The Benefits of Experiential Learning

Teaches the value of mistakes

Experiential learning involves trial by error.  As students engage in hands on activity's though experimenting they will learning approaches that work better then others. Trying a technique and then abandoning it is a important part of the learning prosses. 

Creates real-world relevance

If students can not connect material to the real world they may tune out the lectures. “Experiential learning takes data and concepts and applies them to hands-on tasks, yielding real results”. Interacting with the content will become real to students.

Provides opportunity for creativity

Experiential learning provides students the opportunity to engage creatively with their brains. This happens through seeking solutions or answers to the task at hand and creative problem-solving.

Provides opportunity for reflection

When incorporating concrete experiences with abstract concepts there is an opportunity of reflecting on the outcome. Reflecting on experiential learning engages more regions of a student's brain connecting them to the outcome because they analyze how their actions lead to an outcome.

Accelerates learning

The act of practicing a skill strengthens the neural connection in the brain, causing the curriculum to be processed faster by students. “As student engagement increases through these processes, learning accelerates, and retention improves”.

Examples of Experiential Learning for Children




Association for Experiential Education

This website includes the AEE mission statement, events, membership information, and more.

Institute For Experiential Learning

This website gives an overview of what experiential learning is about. It talks about the experiential learning cycle, learning styles, and more.

Learning At the Edge Podcast

This is a podcast from the Institute For Experiential Learning. It provides lots of interviews with different leaders, educators, and authors. 


Dayton Experiential Learning

Dayton's Office of Experiential Learning offers many opportunities for students

- Over 350 courses with experiential learning components

- Dayton's website page for the Office of Experiential Learning offers a "Explore Opportunities" tab




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European Restaurant


2023 international conference. AEE. (n.d.).

Learning at the Edge with Donna Zajonc MCC        Sep 15. (2023, January 5). Podcast: Experiential learning: Experience based learning: Experiential learning cycle. Institute for Experiential Learning.

What is experiential learning?. Institute for Experiential Learning. (2021, October 22).

“Gardening Project - Experiential Learning.” YouTube, YouTube, 5 July 2020,

“Primary School I Experiential Learning.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Apr. 2021,

“Office of Experiential Learning.” Office of Experiential Learning : University of Dayton, Ohio, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023. 

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