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Curation Project - Experiential Learning Theory

Updated: Apr 16

Curation Project Experiential Learning Theory Resources

Resource Link Aimèe Minard University of Colorado Denver March 2019


Technology has brought us closer than ever, and has also shortened our attention spans. This is why it is important to give students hands-on learning experiences. “Learning by doing” is how to close the gap between theory and practice.

Purpose and Audience

Experiential learning is a beneficial teaching method to increase student engagement levels. The intended audience for these resources is anyone interested in learning more about experiential learning and applying the concepts in their profession. I previously worked on a website for this same purpose, but I’d like to expand on the resources I’ve already found and distill them into a master database. This page acts as a database of my current reading discoveries and media that might support educators interested in utilizing this method. The linked resource page provides support for any educator so they may build background knowledge, learn the research behind experiential learning, read success stories, and get started with curriculum planning.

Search method

I used a variety of databases and resources for this scan, beginning with searches through Google Scholar and Auraria Library online. Finally, within the Auraria Library, I stumbled upon a trove of useful knowledge contained within The Journal of Experiential Education by The Association for Experiential Education.

Resource Page

Follow this link to access the curated resources page. This page provides educators, of all backgrounds, a variety of resources to enhance their understanding of experiential learning. The background knowledge section provides an overview to some of the foundational and current work supporting the theoretical approaches to experiential learning. The research and data section invites educators to explore examples of where experiential learning programs and curriculum have supported student growth and achievement. The anecdotes and examples section provides stories from educators sharing their positive experiences with experiential learning and can motivate teachers to develop their own curriculum. The resources section is an area for teachers who need support and ideas for next steps related to curriculum development. Finally, the media section has various videos related to the utilization of experiential learning.

Teaching Resources

Many schools, and other educational establishments incorporate experiential activities in teaching or learning techniques. This is very common in the medical field, for example, when students work with real patients on a regular basis. Another example is how culinary students learn by cooking in an actual kitchen, not just by reading. Learners might engage with experiential learning through workshops, internships, cultural exchanges, museum tours, or nature expeditions. Hands-on experiences help with better understanding of new and existing knowledge, and information retention over a longer period of time.

Background knowledge around experiential learning

  • David A. Kolb helped to develop the modern theory of experiential learning, drawing heavily on the work of John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Jean Piaget. According to Kolb, knowledge is continuously gained through both personal and environmental experiences. Kolb states that in order to gain genuine knowledge from an experience, the learner must have four abilities: The learner must be willing to be actively involved in the experience, the learner must be able to reflect on the experience, the learner must possess and use analytical skills to conceptualize the experience, and the learner must possess decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the new ideas gained from the experience. On becoming an experiential educator: the educator role profile.

Kolb, A. Y., Kolb, D. A., Passarelli, A., & Sharma, G. (2014). On becoming an experiential educator: the educator role profile. Simulation & Gaming, 45(2), 204–234. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878114534383

  • Reflections on social justice in experiential education: expanding the dialogue by Karen Warren, phD - This resource challenges readers to start a dialogue around repressive and/ or colonizing structures that might be found within experiential education. The aim of this article is to highlight the importance of "structural reform to achieve equity, accessibility, and liberation in all aspects of experiential education."

Warren, K. (2019). Reflections on social justice in experiential education: expanding the dialogue. Journal of Experiential Education, 42(1), 3–6. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053825918823680

Research and Data to provide support for experiential learning

Reijo Miettinen (2000) The concept of experiential learning and John Dewey's theory of reflective thought and action, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 19:1, 54-72, DOI: 10.1080/026013700293458

Anecdotes and examples to provide motivation for experiential learning

  • Learning by experience in a standardized testing culture: investigation of a middle school experiential learning program

Scogin, S. C., Kruger, C. J., Jekkals, R. E., & Steinfeldt, C. (2017). Learning by experience in a standardized testing culture: investigation of a middle school experiential learning program. Journal of Experiential Education, 40(1), 39–57. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053825916685737

  • A method for experiential learning and significant learning in architectural education via live projects - This is an interesting study that found that a project-based + experiential approach succeeds in promoting the development of problem-solving skills and career-readiness. Some architecture students were even employed before graduation since lessons include real-world work modules and learners were able to gain experience on the resolution of real design problems. The following graphic examines each of their initial research questions and the answers they gained through this study.

Rodriguez, C. M. (2018). A method for experiential learning and significant learning in architectural education via live projects. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 17(3), 279–304. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474022217711878

Resources to provide educator support and next steps for curriculum planning around experiential learning

  • Gamification and student motivation by Patrick Buckley & Elaine Doyle. How can educators increase student engagement and enhance learning? This study explores evidence showing that gamified learning interventions have a positive impact on learning.

Buckley, P., & Doyle, E. (2016). Gamification and student motivation. Interactive Learning Environments, 24(6), 1162-1175. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2014.964263

  • Experiential learning with field-trips and in-class puzzles worked for the business classes in this study:

Amar, H. C., Johnson, R., & McLaughlin, E. J. (2018). Updating graduate business curricula: Incorporating experiential learning. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 18(4), 74-78.


The author will continue adding to this list of resources in the future. Thanks for reading!

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