The future of learning: 9 key benefits of experiential learning for educators, students, and organizations
Educators often find themselves caught in a bind—on the one hand, they must equip students with a strong foundation of academic knowledge; on the other hand, they need to provide authentic practical and equitable experiences to prepare all learners for life outside the classroom.
It's a delicate balance that can be hard to achieve. However, with experiential learning, educators can provide students with the skills and experience they need to find careers they’ll love and thrive in the workforce.
In this article, we have curated a collection of insights to help you understand the power of experiential learning and how it can benefit you as an educator, your students, and improve course outcomes. Whether you are looking to create a more engaging curriculum, gain practical skills, or access a diverse talent pool, we have got you covered.
- Experiential learning enhances knowledge retention, motivation, and additional skill development through hands-on activities and real-world experiences.
- To equip students with the skills and experiences they need to thrive in the job market, educators and employers alike are implementing experiential learning.
- From transforming the learning process to increased teamwork, the benefits of this approach to learning are boundless.
What's the importance of experiential learning?
Experiential learning is a hands-on, student-focused approach that emphasizes the practical application of knowledge and skills in a meaningful way.
Labs for biology or chemistry classes are excellent examples of this type of learning in action. As part of the curriculum, students must engage in experimental sessions where they explore scientific processes and apply classroom techniques and procedures.
David Kolb, who founded the theory, suggests that learning happens in a four-stage cycle where learners apply new knowledge and skills repeatedly in different situations and contexts to enhance their understanding.
When we learn by doing, we are more likely to:
- Remember what we learned
- Be more motivated to deepen our learning
- Develop additional (complementary) skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, etc.
Beyond enhancing our own knowledge, experiential learning is becoming increasingly important in shaping learning approaches and the future of work as educators and employers are using it to provide equitable opportunities to prepare ALL students with the skills and experiences they need to thrive in the job market.
Benefits of experiential learning for educators
Through hands-on, authentic projects and real-world experiences, educators can help students see the relevance of what they are learning and give them the opportunity to apply their knowledge in practical ways.
Here are some other ways educators benefit from experiential learning:
Instead of delivering a lecture that doesn’t engage your audience, experiential learning puts students in the driver’s seat.
This gives students a sense of ownership of their education, helping them retain the information presented and develop a deeper understanding of the lesson.
Moreover, this learning style caters to different preferences, letting educators create a diverse learning environment that accommodates all students' needs.
Enhance skill development
Getting hands-on with learning doesn't just help students hone critical thinking and problem-solving skills; it also helps students gain a nuanced understanding of the subject and develop a growth mindset.
Instead of fearing challenges and failure, they will be more resilient and adaptable to these environments.
By immersing students in real-world scenarios, they will learn to navigate complex problems with ease and evolve skills as they participate in developing practical solutions.
Interactive learning fosters personal connections and builds stronger relationships for everyone involved.
When everyone works together towards a goal, students and educators alike learn how to communicate better with each other and create a more trusting and collaborative environment.
Students also develop increased trust in themselves and develop higher levels of respect for their peers and teachers.
Benefits of experiential learning for students
By stepping away from traditional teaching methods, students have the opportunity to explore concepts through active participation, creativity, and reflection. Here are three major benefits of experiential learning for students:
Gain practical understanding
One of the biggest challenges students face is connecting academic concepts to the real world.
When students are given the opportunity to apply knowledge and data in a real-world setting, they play an active role in addition to theory and mastery of concepts—not just memorizing facts.
To overcome this challenge, all learners need to have equitable access to experiential learning, either via integrating work-based learning into the curriculum or by finding opportunities to partner with businesses to supply real-world projects.
Build stronger connections
When students get their hands dirty with experiential learning and see firsthand how abstract concepts apply to the modern world, they engage multiple regions of their brains and make stronger connections with the material.
Reflecting on actions and outcomes also helps students gain a deeper understanding of their own learning styles and preferences, leading to greater self-awareness and aiding in career clarity and areas of career interests.
Work-based learning also offers students the chance to build a professional network with employers that might exceed their local community.
Transform the Learning Process
Even though it took Thomas Edison hundreds of attempts to create the lightbulb, mistakes are still viewed with a negative stigma. Experiential learning challenges this.
As students engage in hands-on tasks, they find some approaches work better than others and discard the methods that don’t work. These “mistakes” are no longer viewed as failures but rather as areas to improve, transforming the entire learning process.
Benefits of experiential learning in the workplace
Experiential learning isn’t just beneficial in the classroom. In fact, employers are always on the lookout for ways to enhance their employees’ skills and keep them engaged in their work.
If employers and educators introduce real work applications to students early on, they present an opportunity to establish a pattern of engagement that would more easily transfer into the workplace.
Here’s what would trickle down:
The ultimate way to guarantee future employees have the knowledge and skills needed for the job ahead is to let them practice through this type of learning.
When students work on actual projects, they develop invaluable experience and become better at what they do—which they carry with them into the workforce.
And the best part? Employers get the added bonus of tapping into a diverse talent pool before anyone else.
Experiential learning encourages students to flex their creative and problem-solving muscles, allowing them to come up with out-of-the-box solutions.
Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to solve a seemingly impossible problem—and that’s exactly what students bring to the table. Their insights can lead to innovative new products or processes that help the organization stay ahead of the competition.
No matter how hard we try to avoid it, teams often end up working in siloed environments, which leads to miscommunications and delays.
But, if you allow students to work together on complex projects, everyone can learn to share ideas, listen actively, and collaborate effectively with colleagues from different departments or areas of expertise—ultimately boosting productivity.
Leverage the Power of Experiential Learning with Riipen
Experiential learning is a game-changer for students, educators, and industry partners alike. It allows employers and educators to share their knowledge while students gain practical skills and build their resumes as they acquire hands-on experience.
Despite the benefits of experiential learning, implementing it is a challenging task because it takes a lot of time, money, and networking to make it a reality.
That’s where Riipen comes in!
Riipen is one of the largest and most dynamic experiential learning platforms that seamlessly connects more than 450 educational institutions, 27,000 employers, and over 100,000 learners.
The platform acts as a marketplace where employers post real-world projects to be matched to educators’ posted courses for students to complete while earning course credit.
Not only does it allow students to enhance their education, but it also lets employers tap into a diverse range of talent as they build their talent pipeline and potentially recruit graduates to open positions.
Through this platform, educators can also create and manage projects for their students, track performance, and access a library of resources to help scale and measure the impact of work-based learning in their courses.
Riipen's user-friendly platform is designed to maximize the potential of experiential learning by giving users access to a wide range of features that facilitate the process.
Here’s a quick demo that showcases the platform:
If you are an employer ready to change your future, sign up and start building connections.
If you are an educator who wants to see the full power of this platform, be sure to schedule a demo and see how easy it is to build out courses.
Advantages of experiential learning: FAQs
While experiential learning has become increasingly popular for its ability to provide hands-on experience, you may still have some questions. In this section, we will answer some frequently asked questions.
What is the impact of experiential learning?
Experiential learning, which typically includes work-based learning, is a powerful game-changer that helps individuals develop new skills, gain confidence, enhance problem-solving abilities, gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter, and improve knowledge retention.
How does work-based learning provide equitable opportunities in the job market?
Work-based learning (WBL) creates equitable opportunities in the job market by offering all learners the chance to build valuable skills and position themselves for rewarding careers they'll love. Through hands-on experiences and real-world applications, WBL ensures equitable access to explore diverse career paths, enabling learners to make informed decisions about their professional growth.