Collaborative learning

Creating Experiential Learning Experiences in the Classroom

A photo of a board game.

In addition to community engagement and problem and project-based learning, experiential learning can occur via a variety of in-class activities. These activities allow students to attain, practice, and demonstrate “real-world” knowledge within a classroom or school setting to cultivate the analytical and communication skills necessary for solving problems that students will confront after leaving school. Participating in authentic learning activities allow students to practice and cultivate skills and knowledge that they will need as professionals once they graduate. In authentic learning environments, instructors step in to coach at critical moments.

Incorporating Community Engagement into Your Course

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Community engagement is a type of experiential learning that involves study in a place outside the classroom. Often these community engagement experiences are considered transformative to the lives of our learners and to us as instructors, as well. They involve raising awareness of difficult issues and contradictions, personal growth, emotional and spiritual connections, and making new meaning.

Problem-Based Learning vs. Project-Based Learning

A photograph of a graph paper notebook with a pen and two crumbled up pieces of paper.

Both problem-based learning and project-based learning are types of experiential learning. Problem-based learning involves critical thinking to examine problems that lack a well-defined answer. In project-based learning, students are challenged to develop a plan and create a product or artifact that addresses the problem. This article delves further into the differences and similarities between these two types of experiential learning.

What is Experiential Learning?

A photo of four people in a laboratory looking at plant specimens in jars.

 Experiential learning is often referred to as “learning by doing.” It is a series of learning activities that comprise both concrete experiences and guided reflections. Students are provided the opportunity to continually distill and integrate knowledge acquired from class with relevant situations and problems.

What is Collaborative Learning?

A photo of a group of students sitting surrounding a desk and interacting with one another.

A large body of research indicates the value of collaborative learning. Changes in students have been documented in areas of psychosocial development, knowledge, cognitive skills, and impacts upon attitudes and values (Pascarella and Terenzini, 1991). When compared to individual learning, collaborative work is shown by research to provide a greater opportunity for academic achievement (Barkley et al., 2005).