What is "experiential learning"?
As a field of practice experiential learning is vast. If we look at the range we see everything from farming to conflict resolution; from assessment to youth development; from practical skill training to theoretical models; and from personal growth to workplace training and development. All are labelled experiential learning - all are presented as being part of the experiential learning family. What then counts as experiential learning? For some people it is all of education - for others it is narrowed down to a specific practice or curriculum model. The vast array of educational activities using the term experiential learning can be seen in Jane Henry’s work.
(Henry, Jane (1989) “Meaning and practice in Experiential Learning” in Susan Weil and Ian McGill (eds) Making Sense of experiential learning, SRHE & OU Press, Milton Keynes, 1989, pp. 29-33. (In this chapter Henry presents a more complex diagram of experiential learning methods which are all grouped under the diagram used in this paper.)
Another useful categorization of the field of experiential learning was developed out of the work of the First International Conference on Experiential Learning in London in 1987. "Experiential learning refers to a spectrum of meanings, practices and ideologies which emerge out of the work and commitments of policy makers, educators, trainers, change agents, and ‘ordinary’ people all over the world. They see ‘experiential learning’ - with different meanings - as relevant to the challenges they currently face: in their lives, in education, in institutions, in commerce and industry, in communities, and in society as a whole. Across such diversity, however, we discern four emphases for experiential learning. Each emphasis forms the basis for a cluster of interrelated ideas and concerns ... We have chosen to refer to these clusters of people and ideas as ‘villages’ ... we see the four villages as follows: • Village One is concerned...