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/ Institute of Philosophy, Citizenship and Youth


Experiential learning

Experiential learning derives from the pragmatist approach. It can be defined as learning through reflection on doing (Felicia, 2011). David A. Kolb developed what is considered to be the modern theory of experiential learning. In his model, learning is a cycle made up of four steps : from concrete experience to reflective observation, followed by abstract conceptualization, leading to active experimentation (Kolb, 1984). Some elements are necessary for this process to be optimal and to produce authentic knowledge: the learner must desire to engage in a given experience, she must be able to reflect on it, to conceptualize experience and to use the new ideas originating from this conceptualization (Kolb, 1984).

Concretely speaking, the integration of experiential learning in formal or informal education consists primarily in implementing activities that allow youth to directly experience a situation that is related to certain objectives of the curriculum. For instance, youth can map out a given site to learn geography, create a work of art to represent a mathematical concept, or visit a museum to better understand the history of religions. Depending on the exact nature of these activities, the approach can overlap with project-based learning and/or inquiry-based learning (for example, conducting analyses in a chemistry laboratory).

See references.