What Are Experiential Learning Activities?

Kids learn better when the material is hands-on.

Experiential learning is learning by doing, because it involves absorbing knowledge by conducting an activity rather than by reading about or memorizing the concept. Such learning activities, while they have drawbacks, can help children and adults alike absorb knowledge in a way that wouldn't be possible in a classroom.

1 Examples

A good example of an experiential learning activity is a trip to the zoo. While you could read about an animal in a book and learn what the animal likes to eat and how it behaves, seeing the animal in action in the zoo and interacting with it allows you to absorb the information through observation firsthand. Another example is a science fair project, which again allows you to progress beyond book learning and actually re-create a scientific principle yourself.

2 Requirements

There are certain requirements you must fulfill to benefit from such experiences. You must be actively involved and use your analytical abilities to reflect on the learning experience, and you must also possess the capability to solve problems and digest the new ideas you have received. If you do not fulfill these requirements, then the experience will have limited benefits.

3 Benefits

Experiential learning allows you to absorb knowledge naturally rather than by forcing the brain to memorize something, which leads to better retention of information. It can also help in other areas; for example, people in higher education can better ascertain what they want to do as a career and train themselves for a future job by taking on an internship, rather than simply by learning about the job and its responsibilities secondhand.

4 Implementation

To implement experiential learning, a teacher must create an environment where a student does not merely receive information but is actively involved in it. The teacher should facilitate an environment where students are encouraged to collaborate, multitask and exchange ideas. Rather than using traditional classroom methods for teaching, the teacher should use concrete experiences and interaction with the subject instead of standard, straightforward lectures on abstract concepts.

Based in the Washington, D.C., area, Dan Taylor has been a professional journalist since 2004. He has been published in the "Baltimore Sun" and "The Washington Times." He started as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia and now writes for "Inside the Navy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in government with a journalism track from Patrick Henry College.