Experiential Learning

Method Objectives & Summary

Some learned concepts require more hands-on practice than others.  Regardless of the topic, when theories are put into practice, they become more memorable. Learning by doing yields the highest retention rate.  Jack Mezinov coined this learning method as “transformative education” (p.270) while David Kolb's Experiential Learning Model (ELM) clearly defines four elements that must take place in order for experiential learning to be effective:

  1. The learner must be actively involved in the experience

  2. The learner must be able to reflect on the experience

  3. The learner must be able to analyze the experience based on observation

  4. The learner must utilize decision-making and problem-solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience.

Method Application

“On the job training” and “practice makes perfect” are notions that draw from the experiential learning method.  One of the best learning opportunities I was presented with was on my first job out of college.  As an Account Manager for a high-tech company, my job was to make sure these major accounts’ needs were met on a daily basis.  Whether this was a follow up on the Return Material Authorization (RMA), order placements, order shipments or else.  In order for me to become an expert in these processes, I was on a training rotation with other departments.  I was essentially able to “walk in the shoes” of my colleagues by understanding their job requirements and processes so that I could also provide them with the basic data needed for them to complete their tasks.  This understanding accelerated the way I supported my customers, allowing me to be proactive with the customers instead of being reactive. 



Davis & Arend (2013), Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning (pgs. 256, 270), Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development (p. 21). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.