What is Experiential Learning?

Posted by HRDQ on 05/02/2019 to Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning Uses Active Involvement of Participants

Experiential learning is a process of learning that centers around the participant and their active involvement in the learning process. This unique method makes it a valuable method of instruction.

The key characteristics of experiential learning include:

  • It includes full participant involvement
  • Lessons are relevant to the participants
  • Participants develop a sense of responsibility for their own learning
  • The learning environment is adaptable to the participants’ needs

With the need for better educated workers, more non-traditional learners with different learning styles and needs, the changing modern workplace, and a greater need for higher education, experiential learning provides a better way for workers to absorb important lessons.


Experiential learning environments have many advantages over more passive learning environments. One study suggested that the use of experiential learning can increase long-term retention of the material. Experiential learning has been proven to create more effective results, like:

  • Increased long-term retention
  • Increased interest in learning
  • Meeting the needs of learners with different learning styles
  • Expanding the experience adult learners already possess

The Experiential Learning Model

HRDQ has an Experiential Learning Model that is based on the views of several theorists of adult learning like Kolb, Honey, Mumford, and Jones. The underlying premise of this model is that adults are motivated in order to perform more effectively.

Step 1: Focusing
The first step of the model is focusing. The facilitator should help the participants relate to the concepts and skills about to be presented. Participants need to focus on the knowledge, skill, or attitude under consideration.

Step 2: Experiencing
The facilitator then introduces the participants to a hands-on activity that puts them in a situation that’s relevant to the concepts and skills being studied. The purpose is to provide the learners with a concrete experience. It is this experience that will provide the learners with initial reactions and effective responses.HRDQ experiential learning model-1

Step 3: Reflecting
The participants are then invited to reflect and discuss their reactions to the structured activity. The purpose is to get people to reflect critically on the activity and on similar past experiences and to search for meaning in the experience.

Step 4: Thinking
A theory is presented to clarify both the structured learning experience and the reflective observations of the participants. The conclusions that were drawn from the previous stage are now analyzed by the learner and are either added to his or her knowledge of existing theory or logical thinking skills are used to create a new theoretical construct.

Step 5: Modifying
Learners are provided with information about their current use of the knowledge, attitudes, or skills suggested by the theory.

Step 6: Practicing
Learners are provided with an opportunity to practice and apply their own learning. The purpose of this step is to help the learner incorporate the skills, knowledge, or attitudes into his or her own personal repertoire by trying them out in a protected setting and considering how they might be used on the job or in other life environments. This process is referred to as “active experimentation.”

Step 7: Integrating
Integrating requires a review of the learning effort, mostly by the learner. The key questions to be answered are how they learned the new information, skills, or attitudes and to what extent have they used the new knowledge, skills, or attitudes in the performance of their real-life role.

Examples of Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is a theme in HRDQ’s products. “Jungle Escape” is a game that is fully immersed in a survival scenario. Teams work together to build a makeshift helicopter with only limited parts and each other. The product’s hands-on design allows players to discover and practice critical group-process skills such as team planning, problem solving, decision making, and conflict resolution. Learn more here: Similarly, “Mars Rover” is a game that provides a unique hands-on experience that allows participants to connect with the concept of collaboration at a deep and personal level. Participants are immersed in a team construction activity, whereby they are tasked by the World Space Agency to build a prototype rover for traversing Mars' rocky terrain. 

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