Experiential Learning Model

Experiential Learning Model

Experiential Learning Theory(ELT) as illustrated by David Kolb gives a different dimension to learning from that of behavioural and cognitive theories of learning. Kolb’s theory of ELT was influenced by the learning models proposed by Dewey, Lewin, and Piaget as they have associated learning to the ‘intellectual’ and ‘experiential’ aspects of the learning process. In this model, learning is considered as a wholistic, integrative process that combines experience, perception, cognition, and behaviour.

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Characteristics of Experiential Learning Theory

  • Learning is not based on a fixed learning outcome but ideas are formed from and continuously modified based on experience.
  • knowledge is continuously derived and tested out in the experience of the learner.
  • The process of learning requires resolution of conflicts between concrete experience and abstract concepts and the conflict between observation and action—for learning to be effective, learners require, concrete experience, reflective observation abilities, abstract conceptualization abilities, and active experimentation abilities.
  • Learning is the central process of human adaptation to the social and physical environment. It involves the integrating functioning of thinking, feeling, perceiving, and behaving.
  • Learning produces knowledge through the interaction of objective and subjective experience.

The learning cycle diagram represents that knowledge is the result of grasping and transforming experience. In this model, experience is grasped through concrete experience (experiencing) and abstract conceptualization (thinking); thereafter, experience is transformed through reflective experimentation (reflecting) and active experimentation (acting). This model is presented as a learning cycle or spiral in which learning touches all four components and the outcome is based on the tension created between all four components. Immediate and concrete experience (acting) are based on reflection and observations. The reflections lead to new concepts that eventually lead to new implications and the cycle continues.

Experiential Learning Theory by Kolb used in NP practicum setting

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Nurse practitioner students may often enter the NP program with some prior clinical knowledge and skills that they have gained through their previous experience as a registered nurse. Although, their clinical expertise may vary based on prior areas of experience, new ideas and abstract concepts are expressed by every one, even at a novice learner level (abstract conceptualization). Such new ideas or abstract concepts will eventually be applied in their clinical settings under the supervision of a preceptor (active experimentation) and produce solid learning experience (concrete experience). Students who take time to reflect on their learning experience (reflective observation) will develop new ideas at the knowledge, attitude, and skill levels; thus, the learning cycle continues. In this curriculum, experiential learning principles are used to assist students in getting a better understanding of their learning process and to effectively combine their intellectual skills with clinical experience for achieving the best learning result in a systematic pattern. The post assessment tools that are used with each module may also assist preceptors in evaluating the teaching – learning outcome in an effective manner.