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College Development Theory Paper-Pfeiffer, B

College Development Theory Paper-Pfeiffer, B - Andrews...

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Andrews University School of Education EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING A Learning Theory Research Paper In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for EDAL 675: College Student Development Theory By Brenda L. Pfeiffer April 2009
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EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING Introduction "Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” This quote by Confucius in 450 BC summarizes the basis of David A. Kolb’s theory of experiential learning. Experiential learning theory explores a circular cycle that involves experience, reflection, conceptualization, action, and continued experience. Kolb’s theory is both deep and broad, yet it does come under quite a bit of criticism. Because of Kolb's original research in the early 1980’s that built on the research by Lewin (1942), Dewey (1938), Honey and Mumford (1982), Piaget (1971) and Saljo (1979), application and significant influence has been made to further understanding of how people learn, how trainers train, how individuals select careers, and how teachers teach. I have chosen this learning theory to research because of my interest in how students learn, specifically in the area of correlating active learning activities in the classroom with effective learning and satisfaction of the learning experience. In addition, I am specifically interested in how healthcare students select a field of study; I believe that there is a direct correlation with learning styles and career selection. In this paper I will give an overview of the theory, and then site the implications to educators, classroom techniques, and a student’s career choice. Overview of Kolb’s Theory of Experiential Learning Experiential learning can apply to any kind of learning. What makes experiential learning experiential is “the experience”; however, experiential learning defined by Kolb’s theory is not just happenstance. Experiential learning, formally, is structured learning guided by a four-stage 2
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cyclical model of experiential learning. Informal examples of experiential learning is unintended or accidental learning resulting from performing activities or being involved in an experience. Inspired by the work of Kurt Lewin (1942), Atherton (2002) says, “Kolb (1984) provides one of the most useful descriptive models of the adult learning process available.” The beginning stages of experiential theory can also be seen in Saljo's (1979) hierarchy of student views of learning. Saljo’s study involved 90 Swedish adults and teenagers with different levels of formal education. They were interviewed about their own learning experiences and techniques, as well s asked about what they actually meant by learning. The concept was defined in a variety of ways by the subjects: (1) an increase in knowledge (merely a synonym for the word learning); (2) memorizing; (3) an acquisition of facts or principles, which can be retained and used in practice; (4) an abstraction of meaning; and (5) an interpretive process aimed at understanding reality. The
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