Experiential Learning Theory Carl Rogers Reviewed by Cory Houston, firstname.lastname@example.org Theory Overview Experiential learning can primarily be thought of an Affective learning style. For example, for affective learning to take place, learners who attend training in which their beliefs or values are supported are much more likely to "let down their guard" and accept the learning points. Rogers stresses that the learner needs to be emotionally safe for the learning to take place, and have a genuine interest in learning the material in order for transfer of knowledge. According to Rogers, learning is facilitated when: (1) the student participates completely in the learning process and has control over its nature and direction, (2) it is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems, and (3) self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success. Rogers also emphasizes the importance of learning to learn and an openness to change. Identifying Terminology and Qualities Applied knowledge, Personal change and growth Rogers lists the qualities of experiential learning as personal involvement, self-initiation, learner evaluation, and pervasive effects on the learner. The theory suggests that learner motivation and the relevance of the topics are keys to successful learning. Dimensions This theory approaches learning from the individuals’ needs and capacities for understanding of the presented topic. The learner is affected though self-exploration and self development of ideas though direct exposure and instructional direction. Breadth of the Dimensions Experiential learning is based on learning and understanding of multiple dimensions of a topic. The exploratory nature of this theory lends itself to psychological research i.e., understanding why someone reacts a certain way in a public situation such as phobia rehabilitation, drug dependency, employee/employer relationships, etc. Integration of the Curriculum In this theory the topic is integrated into the subject area. They are so closely integrated that the topic can be considered the subject being explored. Control of Learning Both the learner and instructor control learning. The instructor is there to set a positive climate, clarify the purposes of the learner, organization and provision of the learning materials, balance intellectual and emotional components of learning, and share thoughts and feeling with the learner without dominating the learning environment. The role of the learner is to become personally involved, self- initiated, self-evaluating, and acknowledge the pervasive effects that the learner experiences through the learning process.
Duration of the Curriculum The topic is taught as many times as the learner/instructor relationship see is as being necessary for the learner to internalize the material. Learning a topic is not a one-shot process, it is based upon exploration processes that may require follow-up learning or expansion into other topics for comparison and greater understanding. Grouping of Learning The learners can be grouped if the instructor or learners see that as the best option for learning. The nature of this theory leaves grouping of individuals up to the programs learning participants. This is not a theory that has a very structured set of rules that describe how the participants must behave or interact within the learning environment. Personal Focus of the Curriculum The learning environment does promote group activity to solve learning issues. However, the basic role of this theory is to promote personal growth and understanding for the individual. Instructional Methods This theory applies both direct and indirect methods of instruction. The instructor’s role is to support and direct the leaner when need be, while the role of the learner is to learner the presented materials and devise their own ways to expand and explore on the topics being presented. However, the learner/instructor relationship is there for support and direction based upon the needs of both the learner/instructor dependant upon the needs of the learning materials. Orientation of Topics The topics are addressed based upon the needs of the learner. The instructor is there to provide emotional support and directions, but the learner is in control of the material being internalized. The learner must be self-motivated to learn the topic, else according to Roger’s the leaner doesn’t actually absorb the material. Similar Theories The three theories Experiential Learning by Rogers, Andragogy by Knowles, and Adult Learning by Cross have very similar approaches and applications for adult learning. All three are based on the Adult learner and the motivations that those types of learners possess. They are all voluntary learning environments and require internal motivations from the learner, while the instructors’ role is to facilitate learning through support, but not direct lecture based instruction. There is very little difference between the three theories, but the similarities are evident that they are all directed towards the adult learner. Another note based upon the research is that Cross developed her theory due to aspects of the Adult learning theories of Cross and Knowles. General Applications This theory is best applied to learning situations in which the learner participates out of internal motivations. The basis upon which this theory has been developed states that learning is based upon the needs and wants of the individual learner. This theory can be 2
seen in practice in internship programs, psychological self help programs, and self-help learning environments such as Alcoholics Anonymous or drug rehab programs. Based upon these examples, the reader comes to the conclusion that Rogers developed a theory that is applicable to many different and varied teaching topics/environments. Specific Applications This theory would be applied in learning environments geared towards self-help topics and personal enrichment programs. Pertaining to my ergonomics project this theory could be applied as the learner sees fit, based upon the need of their specific workstation or working environment situation.