EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING THEORY: Based on 6 Propositions
Experiential learning theory draws on the work of prominent 20th century scholars who gave experience a central role in their theories of human learning and development – notably John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, William James, Carl Jung, Paulo Freire, Carl Rogers and others – to develop a holistic model of the experiential learning process and a multilinear model of adult development (Kolb, 1984).
The theory is built on six propositions that are shared by these scholars:
1. Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes. To improve learning in higher education, the primary focus should be on engaging students in a process that best enhances their learning – a process that includes feedback on the effectiveness of their learning efforts. As Dewey notes, “Education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience: . . . the process and goal of education are one and the same thing” (Dewey 1897: 79).
As we all know, learning is a continuous process and therefore I agree with this proposition. Learning doesn’t end in a way that the learned material is already final. It has to be updated and improved as deemed necessary and appropriate.
2. All learning is relearning. Learning is best facilitated by a process that draws out the students’ beliefs and ideas about a topic so that they can be examined, tested, and integrated with new, more refined ideas.
It implies that continuous updates must be integrated to knowledge that already exists in a person’s awareness. It is true that as time goes by, some pieces of information may become obsolete and therefore needs to be examined from time to time.
3. Learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically opposed modes of adaptation to the world. Conflict, differences, and disagreement are what drive the learning process. In the process of learning one is called upon to move back and forth between opposing modes of reflection and action and feeling and thinking.
I believe that a person is born curious with natural tendency to seek for knowledge and truths. Hence, any misconception or any though that seems unclear will most likely move him to know and search for answers. And every effort of doing so would undoubtedly result to learning.
4. Learning is a holistic process of adaptation to the world. Not just the result of cognition, learning involves the integrated functioning of the total person – thinking, feeling, perceiving, and behaving.
As we continue to learn, these materials are being integrated to our way of living. The manner we think, believe, perceive and behave in the environment is like to be affected by the values and significance that we gain moment by moment. It talks about application of what we learned to the real world.
5. Learning results from synergetic transactions between the person and the environment. In Piaget’s terms, learning occurs through equilibration of the dialectic processes of assimilating new experiences into existing concepts and accommodating existing concepts to new experience.
The evolution of learning is always there. As I’ve said, learning doesn’t end as a single journey. Information and updates encountered along the way must be integrated to the knowledge that already exists among individuals. Every experience in the environment is an opportunity to learn and relearn.
6. Learning is the process of creating knowledge. ELT proposes a constructivist theory of learning whereby social knowledge is created and recreated in the personal knowledge of the learner. This stands in contrast to the “transmission” model on which much current educational practice is based, where pre-existing fixed ideas are transmitted to the learner.
The above propositions clearly delineate how learning should take place. For the most part, it says that learning must be a process that is continuous and never-ending. Knowledge acquired must be open for examination and testing in order to successfully adapt to the continuous challenge of the society. Learn today, and re-learn tomorrow! 😀 Happy learning!