“Challenge and Experience followed by Reflection leading to Learning and Growth” (Association for Experiential Education)

Experiential learning is basically learning from doing, or learning from experience and is aligned with constructivist theory. Reflection and assessment are key parts of experiential learning.

Benefits of Experiential Learning:

  • Motivates learners
  • Actively engages learners
  • Results in deeper learning
  • Supports development of professional skills and networks
  • Gain work experience
  • Increased confidence, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills

Example of Experiential Learning:

Learning is a process that is continuous and involves interaction with the world around us.  One example in nursing education is the practicum experience which is a field based activity that utilizes the pre-learning accomplished in the classroom setting.  This allows the learner to have a ‘real’ experience in caring for a patient and they can draw on previous classroom learning as well as support in the moment from the instructor.  This could be enhanced with practice opportunities in the simulation lab.  The lab setting replicates the practice setting and the ‘patient’ could be a mannequin, a high fidelity human simulator, or another student. Each clinical experience is followed by time for reflection, either in the form of a student sharing seminar or through the use of reflective journaling. The instructor acts as a guide or facilitator, and will also provide feedback.

There are several principles or characteristics that help define an experiential learning activity. Take a few moments to browse the Principles of Experiential Learning from the Association of Experiential Education found here:



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