Experiential learning is not a new concept, but the term is often misused. The simple act of having learners partake in an activity is not, in and of itself, experiential learning. Nor is experiential learning solely activity based. Experiential learning, rather, guides participants through a process, with each stage acting as a building block for the next.
A Framework for Learning
At the core of each of our products is the HRDQ Experiential Learning Model – a proven approach to developing skills that’s built upon the research of leading adult-learning theorists, specifically Kolb, Honey, Mumford, and Jones, who conceived the idea of learning as a cycle. The underlying premise of the model is that adults learn best when they perceive a need to know something or are motivated to perform more effectively. As shown above, the HRDQ model serves as a framework for both facilitators and learners, with each stage defining their interconnected roles and responsibilities.
The Stages of Learning
Let’s examine the phases of the HRDQ Experiential Learning Model in more detail from the facilitator’s point of view.
STAGE 1: FOCUSING
Engage participants by helping them relate to the concepts that will be presented in the workshop. Direct their focus to the knowledge, skills, or attitudes that they are about to learn.
STAGE 2: EXPERIENCING
Introduce an activity that stimulates the learner and relates to the key concepts and skills covered by the program. This provides learners with a concrete experience that elicits initial reactions and honest responses to the topic at hand.
STAGE 3: REFLECTING
Invite participants to reflect on the activity and discuss their responses. Encourage them to relate it to similar past experiences in an effort to make connections and discover meaning.
STAGE 4: THINKING
Present new ideas and perspectives designed to clarify the activity and participants’ reflective observations. Guide learners through the process of thinking critically about this information and analyzing the conclusions drawn from previous stages. They should incorporate their new understanding into their existing knowledge or use logical thinking to create a new theoretical construct.
STAGE 5: MODIFYING
Help learners interpret feedback about their current use of the knowledge, skills, or attitudes addressed in the program. Encourage them to seek alternate outcomes by adapting or modifying their behavior or approach.
STAGE 6: PRACTICING
Provide participants with the opportunity to practice and apply what they’ve learned in a risk-free setting. Help the learner incorporate the desired knowledge, skills, or attitudes into his or her own personal repertoire and consider how to use them in the workplace or other appropriate situations. This process is referred to as active experimentation.
STAGE 7: INTEGRATING
Explore how participants can transfer their newfound knowledge, skills, and attitudes into the real world. Prompt them to answer two key questions: “What have I learned?” and “How can I apply this to my real- life roles to improve my performance?” This stage is commonly referred to as action planning.
Putting It All Together
If the stages of learning are followed in sequence, the desired learning effect will more likely be achieved – that is, participants will internalize what they’ve learned and be able to apply it in the workplace.