In our study of training and development, there are multiple theories about adult learning.
We know that adults learn differently from children. This does not mean, however, that adult learning cannot be fun. Fun comes in many different formats.
What is (usually) not fun is a training session that is boring, disengaging, and ends up being a waste of valuable time.
This is where experiential learning can come into play. In order to counter the negative experiences of one way, lecture-based training sessions, experiential learning provides for participation and engagement on the part of the learners. Adult learning happens best when participants in training sessions are able to put into action real-life scenarios that are linked directly to their work life experiences.
The advantages and disadvantages of experiential training sessions are explored in a recent post found on trainingzone.co.uk.
As noted, good training programs allow the participants to ‘feel, taste, and experience’ that which they are there to learn. Experiential learning can go beyond the simple exercise of a role play when it builds on the actual internal individual reactions and responses to a given situation. That which adult learners experience, adult learners are able to remember, recall, and put into practice when the situation happens ‘for real’ in the future.
Experiential learning as discussed in our textbook and in the aforementioned post through David Kolb’s theories about learning styles, is not a singular approach. Kolb’s theories rely on a variety of individual approaches to learning and reinforce the need for including different experiential techniques or components into adult training modules.
Click here to access the article on Kolb’s learning styles.
Given that individuals learn differently, we need to ensure that different approaches are used when training programs are designed. Based on Kolb’s theories, not everyone will learn from a single group work activity during a training session, nor will everyone learn from a single training simulation, like a role play. Rather than designing a training program based on only one technique, it seems appropriate to use a variety of techniques in order to build the capacity for experiential learning for everyone.
It also builds the capacity for adult learners to have some fun.
- As the HR leader for corporate training and development, how will you build Kolb’s experiential learning cycle into a customer service training module for tellers in a bank?
- Thinking about your own learning experiences; identify a course or a program that used experiential learning as the primary mode of training for the participants. How did it impact your own learning?
- How does experiential learning increase the development of ‘soft skills’ as noted in the article?