Through experiential learning, educators cannot only ascertain the presence of certain abilities in students but also develop specific skills purposefully while achieving a particular level of quality. Crucially, learning affects almost all processes including the genesis of perception, memory, attention, and mental and psychological processes, and a variety of activities can have a diverse impact on students. The main aim of experiential learning is the variation of the content and forms of teaching and student activities to determine the effect of these factors on the rate of development and formation of specific skills in children (Kolb, 2014). By observing the manifestations of experiential learning, a teacher can identify conditions or activities that are more favorable for the development of children, stimulate their involvement in the educational process, and increase their levels of motivation. Many researchers point out that the level of intellectual activity that students manifest when they are involved in experimental activities is impossible to reach with the help of any other type of teaching. The purpose of this paper is to review some of the latest academic resources on the topic of experimental learning and to pinpoint the issues and questions raised by the theoretical framework.
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Davis and Arend (2013) emphasize that children are inquisitive explorers of the world and that the need to explore the phenomena of reality is a natural manifestation of the child’s mind. Indeed, children’s experimentation is not only a way of practical cognition of reality, but it also creates conditions for the child’s educational development, as he or she will be able to discover the essence of reality by identifying causal relationships. Moreover, such an intuitive way of learning is more natural for children. The authors note that an important condition for the formation of essential skills in students, especially younger children, is the availability of factual information and ideas that they receive by interacting with a variety of objects and phenomena (Davis & Arend, 2013). Thus, to understand the phenomenon, a child needs to establish relationships and connections through experimentation. The researchers stress that through experiential learning, students learn the relationship between cause and effect and can comprehend spatial, temporal, and other relationships, which further take concrete forms. It is known that young learners can understand an abstract notion better if their understanding comes from concrete forms; indeed, young learners gain a general understanding based on specific concepts. Therefore, it can be concluded that experimental learning can assist young learners in establishing logical connections and relationships while maintaining the students’ motivation to learn.
However, as stressed by Beard and Wilson (2013), not all teachers comprehend the importance of experiential learning because the opportunities and capabilities of children are often underestimated. Students of this age group have specific features such as emotionality, sensitivity, responsiveness, and imitation, all of which allow them to absorb the phenomenon more effectively; however, many educators do not assess these manifestations of psyche adequately and instead prefer to resort to traditional forms of teaching and learning (Beard & Wilson, 2013). Nevertheless, the need for experimentation in young learners is due to their psychological and emotional characteristics, and addressing these cognitive features can, directly and indirectly, assist students in developing the necessary skills through their influence on different sensory systems.
Moon (2013) has revealed another perspective on experiential learning and the effectiveness of its implementation in terms of accommodation, assimilation, and mediation. Interestingly, the researcher claims that experiential learning is a powerful tool to support students’ learning and to assist those learners who require particular attention (Moon, 2013). To be more precise, the author stressed the benefits of the experiential approach to learning as a means of curriculum differentiation, teacher instruction, and learner support.
Kolb (2014), in turn, considers the domain of experiential learning comprehensively. He explains that, as a rule, the cause of the intellectual passivity of students lies in their limited intellectual experiences. For instance, if a child who cannot complete an assignment had received this task translated into practice, he or she would have been able to solve it much more quickly. This suggests that experimentation should be one of the key methods of student-centered learning (Kolb, 2014). Also, this approach generates independent research skills, supports logical thinking, and encourages the creativity of children. The application of this approach as early as the primary school will enable teachers to build complex cognitive orientations in older students and make all learners active participants in the educational process.
Even though the literature review has shown evidence of the effectiveness of experiential learning, the application of this technique remains quite low. It may be due to the lack of orientation for teachers regarding the effectiveness of this type of activity, the wide use of traditional forms of teaching, a lack of understanding of the characteristics of cognitive activity, or the poor methodological basis available to educators, which leaves them no platform for action (Kolb, 2014). However, even though experiential learning has been implemented slowly in educational institutions, more and more teachers are eager to incorporate the elements of this methodology into their teaching practice.
Beard, C., & Wilson, J. P. (2013). Experiential learning. Philadelphia, PA: Kogan Page Publishers.
Davis, J. R., & Arend, B. D. (2013). Facilitating seven ways of learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Kolb, D. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.
Moon, J. A. (2013). A handbook of reflective and experiential learning. London, UK: Routledge.