By education, I mean an all-round drawing of the best in child and man in body, mind, and spirit.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
These famous lines extend learning to more than the theoretical classes that most educational bodies endorse. Although it is a necessary method of instruction, most students have proved to have lost focus in a lecture and/or have failed to retain all of the information given to them. Even while notes are taken down, much of the learning in the classroom happens passively.
As a result, schools are slowly adapting to differed ideologies of education and learning. Hands-on experiences are now much preferred to traditional methods of learning and are broadly carried out by labschools. Here are the definitions for hands-on and hands-on experiences.
‘Involving or offering active participation rather than theory.’ (Oxford English Dictionary)
‘Knowledge or skill that someone gets from doing something rather than just reading about it or seeing it being done.’ (Cambridge Dictionary)
Hands-on Experience and Experiential Learning
Most hands-on experience finds its initial base from the concept of Kinesthetic Learning. Kinesthetic Learning, also known as tactile learning, is a concept that explores learning through involving in physical activities rather than only listen to a lecture or watch a demonstration. It requires the learner’s whole body movement to process the learning of new information. Examples of such learning include dance, drama, role-play, sports, etc. This results in long-term memory as it is associated with the learner’s emotions and personal involvement.
Hands-on experiences are gained through Experiential Learning. Experiential Learning is a part of Kinesthetic Learning. As the term suggests, learning takes place through experiences. In other words, when the learner is involved in an activity, the experiences that they are subject to, help them understand various things, thereby, allowing learning to take place. Here are ten advantages or benefits derived through Experiential Learning
What opportunities are out there for a student seeking to learn from hands-on experience?
1. Enables Personal & Practical Application
Experiential Learning works best when it is as personal as possible. There are high chances of quick learning when it is personal, for the simple reason that it is relatable and relevant for the learner. This helps in practically applying it in their lives wherever appropriate as well as boosts their adaptation to inevitable, changing circumstances.
2. Accelerates Learning & its Retention
Due to the personal touch, the learner is prone to quickly soak up more information, and also retain it longer. This promotes the development of skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving and effective decision-making at the same time.
3. Diverts Mistakes to Positivity
Experiential Learning is often based on trial-and-error. It allows and leads the learner to think freely and think of alternatives in case of working out a solution. This encourages the learner to not hesitate to make mistakes, in the hope of learning or experiencing something new, thus getting them to make the best use of them.
4. Breeds Creativity
The more mistakes the learner makes, the more he/she thinks of alternatives or ways out of the situation. This improves or rather invokes the creative muscle to work harder and better. Simultaneously, the learner learns to think out-of-the-box to get ideas and solutions that are feasible, effective, less strenuous, and enjoyable.
5. Combining Theory And Practical
Although theory is essential to some extent, for the outcome of a holistic and effective understanding to be achieved, some form of practical and hands-on activity is required. This is where the theoretical concepts are brought to life. When the learner puts theory to practice, he/she has a greater understanding due to personal involvement and live demonstration.
6. Increases Team Work & Pro-social behavior
Experiential Learning is not complete without group learning activities. The fact that we hold inter-personal relationships as an important aspect of our lives, makes Experiential Learning more sensible when we do it with fellow learners. Teamwork builds leadership and organizational qualities. Also while participating in a group, the learner has the benefit of observing the responses and inferences of others, helping the group to learn from each other. This in turn, plays importance in developing prosocial behavior.
7. Accuracy in Assessing Learning
Through the trial-and-error learning, one can assess the learning techniques used and its outcome to understand how best it can be further used or improved. Often, simulation of real-life situations helps in analyzing how much or how little has been understood or rejected by the learner.
8. A Better Guidance to Pursuing Further Studies and Careers
Experiential Learning is directly linked to career-oriented and vocational accomplishments. As it is based on real-world activities, the learner is able to learn and develop skills, orientation, and the means to achieve those accomplishments, giving a direction to pursuing higher studies and vocations.
9. Opens a Path for Personalized Learning
Since every individual is unique and varies in degrees of motor, mental, emotional, creative, and other capabilities; their experiences also differ. Experiential Learning enables personalized learning, where the learner learns in a pace and space where he/she is comfortable and is able to best put his/her capabilities to use.
10. Gives Room to Reflection
The main element in Experiential Learning is the opportunity to reflect. Reflecting from experiences is in the heart of Experiential Learning. It sets in place the purpose, method, and outcome of the Experiential Learning activity. Apart from being connected with all the other benefits, reflection also creates a space where the learner is able to analyze his/her own self as a journey of personal growth. This gives them insight into how they and others respond to various circumstances in life. This greatly helps in preparing and strategizing appropriately for upcoming and inevitable life situations.