Sitting in the class, Rahul looks at the blackboard. His teacher is writing several equations and chemical symbols. The words seem hazy and the terms not clear. He is just not able to comprehend what to do with these names and symbols written on the board. Disheartened, he shuts the door of his brain and leaves the topic without bothering to put any effort.
The next period, however, is Chemistry Practical. He walks to the laboratory with his friends, his mind still wondering about the essence of all these chemical formulae. Why are they important? The next thing he sees is a lot of chemicals and liquids in different bottles. The teacher asks the students to do some hands on work for the chemical equations she taught in the previous class. What next? Rahul is all excited as he mixes two chemicals in one test tube and sees a chemical reaction happening – a new substance is formed. A compound! He can’t believe his eyes – those words and symbols have come to life!
Such is the power of experiential learning because learning IS an experience; everything else is just information!
When you give students something to do, not something to learn, and that action demands thinking, learning occurs naturally. This is true not only for schools, but also for workplaces. Having a monotonous and theoretical workplace can be a little demoralising and downright boring for your personnel. However, a workroom filled with exciting experiential learning activities is the key to boosting employee morale.
So, what is experiential learning? It is the process of learning through experience, more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing.” It is different from the traditional rote method as it involves active thinking and hands-on learning. The modern model theory of experiential learning (developed by David A. Kolb), states that in order to gain knowledge from experience, the learner must have four abilities:
Let us explore the benefits of experiential learning programs for individuals in an office environment.
Experiential learning means learning from hands-on participation, with every individual, actively giving his or her best, thereby motivating them. This enhances employee engagement in the organisation as a result of the relationship building that happens during the small team-based activities.
Since time immemorial, working professionals have been trained using those age-old PowerPoint presentations leading to the same kind of training for all. However, it must be realised that every individual is different in their mental levels, emotional states, ability to grasp knowledge, background, etc. So one presentation for all will not give your employees a kickstart. On the other hand, conducting activities that can empower them to contribute their individual part, partake in decision-making, and take ownership of their role will undoubtedly increase motivation and engagement.
Experiential learning extends beyond the basic classroom and traditional learning methods, which helps maintain higher retention rates and drive increased return on investment.
Now that you know the many benefits attached to practicing experiential learning, let’s explore the various types of experiential learning methods.
On-the-job training aims to provide knowledge about the job roles and responsibilities. Not only this, but it also enables employees to learn their job profile through training in the office environment by actively attempting their role and collaborating with their co-workers while on the job.
This type of experiential learning program is principally used to enable employees to see things from different perspectives through acting it out. It is an effective method to change attitudes and analyse and improve interpersonal skills among employees. Remember, a mind that is stretched by a new experience will struggle to go back to its old dimensions.
This method involves creating real-life situations that imitate the key elements of the workplace in order to give employees a first-hand experience of what to expect from their job. This kind of experiential learning activity aims to provide a safe environment for individuals where they can learn, experiment with ideas, and analyse the results of their actions. The best source of knowledge is experience.
As working professionals, we must understand that this is the age of the millennials, and they are not motivated by money alone. This group, Generation Y, will deliver better results if they are involved in decision-making, appreciated for their efforts, and given a motivating work environment and a stimulating work culture. They are also driven by knowledge and value addition, which is why adding value to their work and job role is imperative for every organisation.
The content of any learning experience is important. However, what really matters is how students react to it, shape it, or apply it. Integrating experiential learning into the work culture will foster camaraderie between the employees, heighten their understanding and attachment to the work, and ultimately increase productivity itself.
We’d like to hear from you! How are you imbibing experiential learning into your work culture? Please tell us in the comments below or email us at [email protected] to explore the world of experiential learning.