12 April, 2009

Experiential Education

Part of my MA program requires me to experience my field: History and Culture of the Middle East. Therefore, one of the classes I am taking this semester is called "Applications I". This means that I get to do a lot of reading on the background of Experiential Learning/Education in addition to experiencing aspects of my field such as going to museums in Dearborn (MI) and Washington (DC), keeping a research journal (and this blog), and preparing scholarly journal articles/conference proposals and syllabi.

One of the articles I chose to read is called "On Defining Experiential Education" by Laura Joplin. In this article, Joplin describes a Five-Stage Model and Nine Characteristics pertaining to experiential education. Some of my thoughts on her Five-Stage Model and Nine Characteristics follow:

Five-Stage Model:
In order to truly experience learning, the learner must reflect on that experience. One way to do this is to keep a journal/blog on the things experienced.
  • Step 1: Focus = Presenting the activity - this can be direct or indirect depending on the activity
  • Step 2: Action = Interact with the activity - this does not mean education. It means to do the work to obtain the education. A good example of interaction is the learner deciding what is important to the activity and what is not. A textbook is not a good example as it does not allow the learner to decide. THE LEARNER MUST HOLD THE RESPONSIBILITY.
  • Step 3-4: Support/Feedback = Showing an interest in the learner - the "learnee" (teacher) helps when needed and discusses progress with the learner.
  • Step 5: Debrief = Reviewing the learners' activity in an organized fashion - this can be done through reflective papers, journals, and group work. REFLECTION is a big part of this step.

Nine Characteristics:
I will not list all of the characteristics here, but simply list my impressions of what they mean.
Experiential Education/Learning is:
  • Individual
  • Personal
  • Self-Evaluated
  • Growth

To summarize: Experiential Education/Learning not only allows the learner to learn, but also allows the "learnee" to learn from the learner. The learner and learnee should be engaged in the activity and each other during the learning process.
*Article taken from Journal of Experiential Education, 1981


Tim Reynolds said...

I just read this real quick. I am a big fan of comparing and contrasting instead of pure description. For this reason I would go with your first choice but do a small selection of key aspects of Caliphates and see how they change. What differences makes one better then the other? is it just the amount of territory they control or is something more profound. I would be interested in hearing more because I am a major fan of the Kingdom of Sicily which is very different from most European kingdoms at the time and lots of power.

Tim Reynolds said...
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