Experiential Learning Cycle
Once it has been established
that the curricula is age appropriate, it then needs to be evaluated
against the experiential learning cycle. The five-step ordered cycle adapted
from the work of David Kolb (1984) by Pfeiffer and Jones (1985) takes the
leaner from the physical activity to real life application.
Provide a concrete experience that:
- Can be an individual or group experience, but involves doing.
- Most likely will be unfamiliar to the learners – a first-time activity.
- Pushes the learner beyond previous performance levels.
- May be “uncomfortable” to the learner.
- Includes the risk of failure.
- Get the participants to talk about their experience.
- Share reactions and observations.
- Discuss feelings generated by the experience.
- Let the group (or individual) talk freely and acknowledge the ideas they
- Discuss how the experience was carried out.
- Discuss how themes, problems, and issues are brought out by the experience.
- Discuss how specific problems or issues were addressed.
- Discuss personal experiences of members.
- Encourage the group to look for recurring themes.
- Find general trends or common truths in the experience.
- Identify “real life” principles that surfaced.
- Identify key learnings.
- List key terms that capture the learning.
- Discuss how new learning can be applied to other situations.
- Discuss how issues raised can be useful in the future.
- Discuss how more effective behaviors can develop from the new learnings.
- Help each individual feel a sense of ownership for what was learned.
The experiential learning cycle when applied to environmental
education will provide the learner with authentic learning opportunities
that take place in real world settings and can be transferred to everyday
living. By taking the experience and making the application to real world
events, students are given the tools to make sound decisions about the
environment and their role in it.
Following the evaluation of curriculum materials for key
characteristics, age appropriateness and experiential learning
opportunities, materials should further be assessed for their application
to and development of environmental literacy.
Pfeiffer, W., & Jones, J. E. (1975). A Handbook of structured
experiences for human relations training Vols. 1-5, University
Associates, La Jolla, CA.