Experiential Learning

There is an intimate and necessary relation between the process of actual experience and education.

John Dewey, 1938

Experiential learning is learning through action, learning by doing, learning through experience, and learning through discovery and exploration. 

When is it effective?

Experiential learning helps bridge classroom study and life in the world and to transform inert knowledge into knowledge-in-use.

How can it be used best in professional/career education?

Within professional programs, there is a long tradition of including field experiences as a way to build practitioner skills and facilitate the move from theory to practice. Two of the most common forms of workplace learning are cooperative education and the internship.

Important Note:

The most critical factor for achieving powerful learning outcomes from experiential-learning programs is the inclusion of opportunities for feedback and reflection. This can be accomplished with discussions, journaling, etc. 

To the right is a short video of an overview of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. An understanding of this model can help professionals in learning and development target their audiences and learners more effectively. 

Above is a reflections paper I wrote for a class on the subject of John Dewey’s Experience & Education. This assignment put theory into practice by having students participate in first reading the text, then completing assignments, and then reflecting on the work done. 


Eyler, J. (2009). The power of experiential education. Liberal Education, 95 (4), retrieved from   https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/power-experiential-education

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience & education. New York: Touchstone

Ross-Gordon, J.M., Rose, A.D., & Kasworm, C.E. (2017). Foundations of adult and continuing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.