Session 328: Experiential Learning

Thursday 10th November 2016

Learning is not just about reading through textbooks, completing worksheets, or sitting exams. A lot of our learning is down to the experiences we encounter and our innate curiosity that helps us discover new ways of achieving success. Yes, some people achieve a lot by reading through textbooks or sitting passively listening to someone trying to guide their learning, but the deepest learning is achieved when you are experiencing learning through real-life encounters. Following on from the online poll, this #UKEdChat session explores how teachers can provide experiences to bring learning to life across the range of subjects in schools and colleges, asking:

  1. What real-life experiences are you able to provide your pupils within your subject/classroom?
  2. How do you make sure the learning experiences in your classroom suit all students?
  3. Which subjects lend themselves more towards experiential learning, and which subjects don’t?
  4. Theory vs practice. How do you connect the learning to the real-world?
  5. How is it possible to record achievement in experiential learning? Formative vs Summative?
  6. How could we provide more meaningful experiential learning experiences for our students?

Join the chat via the Twitter hashtag #UKEdChat from 8pm on Thursday 10th November 2016.


The discussion began with a question about real-life experiences in the classroom. Many chatters spoke about the ways in which they bring realism to the classroom experience, but it was interested to see the number of responses about times when the pupils and teacher left the classroom and ventured on into the real world, rather than trying to artificially being it into the classroom.

Most participants expressed that suiting all students is no easy task. Many people suggested that by allowing pupils to guide their own learning, at least to a point, is a useful way to ensure the learning experience meets the needs of the pupils. A few chatters took the opposite view that pupils must adapt to the requirements of the lesson and be versatile in their thinking.

The discussion turned to which subjects lend themselves towards experimental learning. The answers fell broadly into two catalogues – either chatters felt that all subjects had similar possibilities for experimental learning, or “My subject naturally”.

The part of the discussion about making learning relevant to the real world was fascinating. Relating learning to the work of work and/or enterprise was mentioned. Mantle of the Expert was also briefly spoken about. But some expressed that it isn’t the method or process that is important here. It is the perceived purpose and initial stimulus is where real world context can have the greatest impact. There were many other examples and thoughts, so I would recommend that you browse the archive for details.

The final two question were similar and connected in the way UKEdChatters responded. While many said that experimental learning could be measured either formative or summative, the majority of chatters seemed to think a combination would be most beneficial, with others stating that it should not be assessed at all. The discussion finished by discussing about how to make experimental learning more meaningful. Many of the previous points were repeated, but the central thought to finish on was that experimental learning, like all learning, needs to have a clear purpose and context. The pupils need to know that the work isn’t a stand-alone task without meaning. We all like to feel what we are doing has value. Thanks to all tonight’s chatters making the discussion so valuable.

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About UKEdChat Editorial 3188 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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