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Experiential Learning: Vidya Bharati’s Innovative Teaching Technique

experiential learning

Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience. It means, students develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting.

One simple example of experiential learning is going to the zoo and learning through observation. Interaction with the zoo environment piques the interest of a child a lot more than reading about animals from a book. It aids students in making discoveries and experiments with knowledge firsthand, instead of hearing or reading about others’ experiences.

Why VBS Teachers Focus on Experiential Learning

Keeping with our ambition to make Vidya Bharati School the top school in Delhi NCR, our research body was looking at innovating methods. They found out that experiential learning has proven to have a wide range of benefits that contribute to a child’s development. Here are some of the benefits of Experiential Learning

Students can better grasp concepts
Students may struggle to grasp concepts that don’t pertain to the “real world.” With experiential learning, students are given the opportunity to apply data and ideas in a real-world situation where they too play an active role. As the student interacts with the information, it becomes real to them.

Students have the opportunity to be more creative  
Experiential learning is one of the best ways to teach creative problem-solving. With real-world content, children learn that there are multiple solutions to challenges, and they are encouraged to seek their unique solution to hands-on tasks.

Students have the opportunity to reflect
By incorporating concrete experiences with abstract concepts, and then reflecting on the outcome, students engage more regions of their brain and make stronger connections with the material. They are encouraged to analyse how their actions affected the issue, and how their outcome may have varied from other students’. This analysis helps them better understand how the concepts learned can be applied to other, varied circumstances.

Students’ mistakes become valuable experiences
As students engage in hands-on tasks, they will find some approaches work better than others. They discard the methods that don’t work, but the act of trying something and then abandoning it – ordinarily considered a “mistake” – becomes a valuable part of the learning process. Students learn not to fear mistakes, but to value them.

Teachers often observe improved attitudes toward learning
Experiential learning is designed to engage students’ emotions as well as enhancing their knowledge and skills. Playing an active role in the learning process can lead to students experiencing greater gratification in learning.

4 Stages of Experiential Learning Cycle

1. CONCRETE EXPERIENCE: 
Concrete experience describes the hands-on experiences that we learn from. It’s here that we try new things, face problems and step out of our comfort zone. These experiences could be anything in our personal or professional lives. its through experience that we get to learn from our successes or failures.

2. REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION
Next we need to reflect to learn from our experiences. The ‘reflective observation’ phase of the experiential learning cycle is all about reflection on the experiences which include both action and feelings. It’s during this stage that we ponder on the experiences. We get to reflect on what went right and what could be improved? It’s also a chance to observe how it could have been done differently and to learn from each other.

3. ABSTRACT CONCEPTUALIZATION
Once we have identified and understand the defining characteristics of an experience, we can decide on what we can do differently next time. This is a time for planning and brainstorming steps for success.

4. ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION
The active experimentation phase of the learning cycle is where we get to experiment with our ideas. It’s time to put our plan of action to the test in the real world! 

Examples of Experiential Learning

The learning process does not necessarily begin with experience, however. Instead, each person must choose which learning mode will work best based upon the specific situation.

For example, let’s imagine that you are going to learn how to drive a car. Some people might choose to begin learning via reflection by observing other people as they drive. Another person might prefer to start more abstractly, by reading and analyzing a driving instruction book. Yet another person might decide to just jump right in and get behind the seat of a car to practice driving on a test course.

​Below are two examples

Learning to ride a bicycle:

  • Reflective observation – Thinking about riding and watching another person ride a bike.
  • Abstract conceptualization – Understanding the theory and having a clear grasp of the biking concept.
  • Concrete experience – Receiving practical tips and techniques from a biking expert.
  • Active experimentation – Leaping on the bike and have a go at it.​

​Learning to coach:

  • Concrete experience – Having a coach guide you in coaching someone else.
  • Active experimentation – Using your people skills with what you have learned to achieve your own coaching style.
  • Reflective observation – Observing how other people coach.
  • Abstract conceptualization – Reading articles to find out the pros and cons of different methods.
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