The school of thought emphasising learning through reflection on experience considers individual to gain and construct knowledge by interacting with their environment through a set of perceived experiences. (Fenwick 2001). Works of Kolb(1984), Piaget(1966) Dewey(1938)and Wells (1995) have greately contributed the constructivist view of experiential learneing .The theory of constructivism implies that the learner or the individuals are constructors of their own knowledge which is generated by interacting with their social environment(Vygotskey,1978)
Experiential Learning from a constructivist Perspective: Reconceptualising the Kolbian Cycle
The new “Principle” is texted out in similar situation, then in different situation, and the learner continues to revise and reshape the learning based on what happened trough experimenting with it. The learner may not actually text out the new skill but may simply think through its application .Kolb and other theorists maintain that although the adults are exposed to a multitude of life experiences, not everyone leaners from this experiences. Experience alone doesn’t teach. Learning happens only when there is reflective thought and internal processing of that experience by the leaner in the way that actively make sense of the experience, link the experience to previous learning and transform the learner’s previous understanding in some way.
Finally the learner applies the new things through active experimentation. The learner ask, what will I do next time? How will I adopt this principles for other context?
This is where the learner ask ratio what principles seems to be operating here? What journal ‘rule -of – thumb’ I have learned here? What new experience reveal about myself, or people, or how thing works in this particular situations?
Third, the learner uses insight gained through the reflective observation to create and abstract conceptualization.
Second the learner take some time for reflective observation. The learner asks the experience; what did I observe? What was I aware of? What does this experience mean to me? How my experience have been different?
First, the learner lives through some kind of concrete experiences .this could be simulated experiences developed specially for a learning situation, such as a case study or a role play, or an exercise involving the learner in actually experimenting with the skills to be learned .Or this could be real life or workplace experiences that the learner has encountered.
David Kolb (1984) developed a theory that attempted to clarify exactly how different people learn by integrating their concrete emotional experiences with reflections. For him reflection is all about cognitive process of conceptual analyses and eventual understanding .Kolb believed that experiential learning is a tension and conflict filled process that occurs in a cycle. New knowledge and skills are achieved through confrontation among concrete experiences, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and subsequent active experimentation.
The most prevalent understanding of experiential learning is based on reflection. The learner supposedly reflects on lived experiences, then interprets and generalises this experience to form mental structures. These structures are knowledge stored in memory as concepts that can be represented, expressed and transferred to new situations. Theoretical model in this perspective explain ways people attend to and perceive experience, interpret and categorize it as concept ,then continue adapting or transforming their conceptual structures . Individuals are understood to construct their own knowledge, through interaction with their environment.
Monitoring and Continuous Improvement: Learning activities should be dynamic and changing and should provide the richest learning experience. There should be provision for feedback and structure of the experience be sufficiently flexible to make changes in response to the feedback suggested. Monitoring and continuous improvement signify the formative evaluation tools.
Orientation and Training: Both the learner and the learning facilitator must know the background information of each other and about the context and environment in which the experience will operate for the full value of experience to be accessible. Constant structured development opportunities should also be included to increase the learner’s appreciation of the context and skill requirements of her/his work.
Reflection: Reflection transforms simple experience to a learning experience. Reflective process is fundamental to all phases of experiential learning. It is also a necessary tool for adjusting the experience and measuring outcomes.
Authenticity: The experience must be meaningful and useful in reference to an applied setting or situation. It must have real world context.
Preparedness and Planning: Participants must have adequate foundation to support a successful experience. They must focus on the intension and plan for it. It should be flexible enough to make adaptation
Intension. Intention denotes the purpose which is deeper than goals, objectives and activities that define the experiences which enables experience to become knowledge.
The National Society for Experiential Education (2013) principles include:
Both experience and learning are fundamental. There is mutual responsibility between learner and facilitator of learning. Therefore the facilitator is expected to take the lead in ensuring both the quality of learning experiences and the work produced.
According to Cantor, to begin with the experiential learning strategy, the instructor must identify the learner’s needs and requirements. Instructor must understand the cultural environment of the learner, their maturity level, learning difficulties and strengths and the weakness of the learner. Then to meet the cognitive development needs of the individual learner appropriate course content and activities need to be planned. While integrating experiential learning all the potential issues must be identified and necessary changes must be done.
Experiential learning can be broadly categorised into 2 types. Classroom-based learning and field-based experiences. Experiential learning in classroom includes wide range active learning strategies to bring out the excellence among students. Classroom-based experiential learning includes role-playing, games, case studies, simulations, presentations, and various types of group work. Field-based learning is considered as one of the oldest and most established form of experiential learning that includes internships, practicums, cooperative education, and service learning. In an experiential classroom an instructor’s role is quite different from that of traditional classrooms. Here the instructor pass much of the responsibility on to the student .The instructor role is significant because instructor is a guide, facilitator leader, resource person and provides necessary support to carry out experiential learning in and outside the classroom. Students take control of their own learning and gain knowledge.
Experiential Learning has been discussed and described as process of learning and method of instruction. Experiential education is an alternative and or an enrichment to instruction. Hence as a method of education it facilities active multisensory involvement of one’s student in some aspect of the course content. This immersion in the material becomes the basis for analyses and reflection on the part of the student-and hence the learning. (Cantor, 1995).
Teacher education is an integral component of educational system and intimately connected with society. It is, therefore, essential that teacher education programme must ensure that student teachers are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to cope with the requirements of changing society. The trained and motivated teachers can deal effectively with the all the challenges of modern society. Teachers of tomorrow who will bear the responsibility for preparing intellectually equipped critically thinkers for next century. Hence teacher education programme must be examined and retooled if necessary to provide those needed intellectual challenges to its cadre of prospective teachers to mould tem into lifelong learner with requisite skills and knowledge ready for the challenge (Cantor, 1995). High quality pre-service programme of teacher education can strives constantly to prepare teachers to improve the learning process by offering them opportunities to upgrade their knowledge and skills over the full length of their career. For the professional development of the teachers, it is essential to engage students with new and innovative ideas about education and try out new classroom activities. Experiential Learning focuses on the experience of teachers developing their classroom practice. Therefore to improve the quality of pre-service teachers student teachers must be provided with various kinds of experiential activities that would help them to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking. By applying knowledge to experiences they participate in process of learning by doing. In an experiential learning student teachers manage their own leaning by reflecting on their experiences in new and challenging situation. It provide opportunities to learn in real world setting outside the classroom. Such experiences not only enhance subject matter knowledge but also have positive impact on academic performances too. It also develops confidence, characters and autonomous learning.
Present-day society is in need of vibrant teachers who are well qualified and well prepared with academic and professional competencies of the high standard to carry the earnest obligation of improving students’ learning and attainment and to make them gradually independent and self-actualizing person. The quality and extent of learner achievement are determined mostly by teacher competence, skills, and motivation. A teacher is one of the chief instruments for bringing about qualitative improvement in learning. A competent teacher enables the learner to participate actively in the process of learning and makes learning meaningful. Effective teaching is a very complex task. It is a highly specialized task which demands specialized knowledge, and skill. Over a period of time with intense training and practices, teachers must be constantly improving and developing their effective teaching skills. The teacher education programs play a vital role in facilitating this early growth and development at the beginning stages for pre-service teachers. Preparing teachers for the profession is a difficult task and it involves multiple actions and perspectives. Teacher education programme plays a vital role in preparing teachers for classroom processes with theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Teacher education programme is the process of training and transforming laypersons into committed and competent professional teachers. It provides them training by engaging and experiencing classroom setting. It is the professional preparation of teachers to enter into the field of noble field of teaching and thereby develops their ability and proficiency that would facilitate and empower them to meet the requirements of the profession and face the challenges. Through this student teachers gain the knowledge of methodology of teaching along with the core teaching skills which help them to become potential teachers. They learn the pedagogy of teaching with the essential core qualities to become effective teachers. Appropriate content knowledge and practice of effective domain related to core qualities through classroom setting could help them to develop these qualities.