When teachers learn about experiential learning activities, they are optimistic, but there is always the lingering question of true, long-term experiential learning benefits. We’ve seen trends come and go in education and wondering about experiential learning benefits is a valid thought. No one wants to put effort into something that doesn’t have any long-term promise.
The truth of the matter is when it comes to experiential learning benefits, there is no way to quantify it. We cannot measure the potential of experiential learning activities because there are too many variables that come into play with each and every individual. Each person learns in different ways, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at several examples and see what benefits could potentially be seen as a result of experiential learning activities.
Experiential Learning Benefits for our Students
One of the most obvious benefits we can see is that students become more engaged and excited about learning when you add experiential activities to their educational curriculum. Of course, this type of benefit should be at the core of every lesson plan, but it’s something that too often gets overlooked or forgotten altogether. There are administrators who won’t fund experiential learning activities because their minds are on test scores and how that plays into school ratings. A lot of the pressure to perform well is presented from test results which limits our ability to teach in a creative fashion.
Many teachers have been able to break free from the constraints of standardized testing by creating a special, project-based curriculum or perhaps a specialized learning center in their school that really showcases their experiential learning benefits and results. The important thing for teachers to remember is that the benefits of experiential activities go beyond just creative lessons and can be applied to so much more than we may have thought possible.
In many cases, students who have been struggling in a traditional educational setting become better learners when they are given an opportunity to explore an activity in a more hands-on way. This is truly the framework for experiential learning benefits. They are able to apply what they have learned through traditional learning, or perhaps they were even struggling because of it. When students are given the opportunity to engage with their surroundings in new and unique ways they become better learners overall.
Activites Make the Difference for Experiential Learning Benefits
The type of activities that help students most are those that allow them to apply their knowledge in a hands-on way. The more your students are able to create and build things, the better they will understand concepts that would be difficult for them to grasp otherwise. These types of experiential learning activities should not be limited simply to art or science lessons but should become an integral part of every subject area.
Experiential learning activities can take place anywhere, and it doesn’t have to completely derail your lesson plan. You can incorporate these types of lessons into basic math problems or science experiments by simply asking the right questions. Instead of limiting yourself to a textbook answer for a homework question, try to get students involved in a more experiential way. For instance, instead of asking students to answer a math problem that would normally be found on a worksheet, you could ask them to build something.
Perhaps they have been learning about making geometric shapes with cubes and triangles in geometry class. There is no right or wrong way of building something, but if their structure falls down it represents an incorrect answer. It may not be what you are used to doing, but it is an example of how experiential learning activities can work in a traditional academic setting.
Of course, this is just one example that highlights experiential learning benefits and there are certainly countless others that could help students learn new concepts, but the main idea here is that adding experiential activities into your lesson plans will help you to engage your students in a way that was previously only possible with hands-on learning.
The Experiential Learning Benefits for Teachers
There are many reasons why experiential education can be beneficial for both teachers and students alike. Teachers get an opportunity to teach in a creative fashion while giving their students the chance to explore new concepts. Students benefit by using their surroundings as inspiration for projects instead of being limited to a textbook answer.
Experiential learning activities don’t always have to be related to lessons either, they can provide students with valuable skills that they will carry into the workplace. Perhaps you could create an experiential project for your students that gives them an opportunity to work together as a team and build something. Perhaps they could build a treehouse or have a bake sale.
Experiential education gives you the opportunity to get your students excited about learning and gives them a chance to explore different concepts in real life. If you are looking for ways to engage your students in new and unique ways, try these tips out for size!
One of the best things about experiential education is that it can take place anywhere. You can do so many fun things with your students if you have the right tools and a little bit of creativity. Here are just a few suggestions to help get you started:
Who doesn’t love tie-dye? This is a great activity for the end of the school year, as it will give your students a chance to create some fun and colorful projects. It doesn’t have to be complicated either; you can simply provide them with T-shirts and fabric dye and let them go wild!
The reason this activity is so effective for educational purposes is that it allows students to engage their creativity to create something that they can take home. Tie-dyeing is also a great activity for team building because it requires students to work together in order for the final product to come out looking its best. It is also an easy way to work in math (fractions), science (the nature of the dye), history (Hello, 1960’s!) and so much more. Be creative.
If you are looking for an activity that helps your students develop important skills like patience and fine motor abilities, baking is a great option. It also helps students learn to follow recipes as well as how to work with others in order to accomplish a goal that they can all enjoy.
Try choosing a recipe that everyone will enjoy and then break into groups for preparation and cooking. This way, each group can focus on specific tasks like measuring ingredients and stirring. Once they are done baking, let them decorate their goods! This is a great activity for teamwork and gives students the chance to display their creativity.
Sports like kickball, soccer, or dodgeball are all activities that can be played with limited equipment; therefore, they are easy for teachers to organize in the classroom with little notice. They are also very engaging for students; there is nothing like the thrill of victory over another team after all! Plus, getting to play games in class can help your students remember things longer.
A mock trial gives students the chance to explore what it might be like to be part of a court case (I always loved putting the Renaissance artists on trial). They get to learn about how evidence is presented and how the law works. It is a very interactive activity that gives students valuable life skills, such as public speaking and teamwork.
This is one of my favorite ideas because it helps to bring science into the real world for your students while simultaneously empowering their creativity. Have your students pick an object from around the school or classroom and then create a project about it. You can have them work in groups or as individuals, as you see fit. This is a great way to introduce older students to basic scientific equipment and vocabulary as well as an effective way of bringing science into real-world applications for younger students.
In the end, experiential learning benefits us all because it helps us see things from many different perspectives. It allows students to develop critical thinking skills and aids in their personal growth, both of which are invaluable to successful learners. Try out one of these activities during your next class period and see the difference it makes!
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