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Brain Research

Many experiential learning activities reside in the upper four levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, commonly referred to higher-order thinking skills.


Support for Experiential Learning

Beyond Learning by Doing: The Brain Compatible Approach
Jay W. Roberts, 2002

Understanding the human brain’s tendency toward pattern and “meaning-making” reinforces the intentional use of reflection and synthesis in experiential education. Viewing the  brain as a parallel processor encourages the creation of enriched environments for learners. Experiential methodology facilitates such enriched environments  through challenge, social interaction, feedback, and  active participation. Finally, the differences between stress and threat responses support our pedagogical approach including the effective use of emotion and the importance of novelty and choice. Recent developments  in brain research should also push us toward new questions and research queries. 
  • What is the role of emotion in experiential education? 
  • How do we define. operationally, the differences between stressful and threatening experiences and responses? 
  • How is the mind-body connection supported in Current brain research? 
  • What part can experiential methodology play in the Creation of enriched classroom environments
We must move beyond mere “learning by doing” for our fields’ philosophical underpinnings and practical approaches to become more influential in mainstream education. Using only the learning-by-doing definition, experiential education becomes nothing more than 
activities and projects.

Learning Theories

Cognitive Theory
Cognitive theory states that humans learn and make decisions based on what is the most logical thing to learn and do. In simpler terms, humans think like computers in such a way that logic is the top mechanism used in learning. It presupposes that the learning process is merely based on intellect, without any emotional factors.

Constructivist Theory
Constructivism, although unique, primarily stems from cognitive theory. If cognitive theory believes that learning is a logical process without any emotion or humanistic factor, constructivism believes that learning is a combination of logic and humanistic approaches. For example, constructivism believes that individuals interpret information on their own, integrating what is learned from others. This means that people learn together by themselves in unison while viewing the habits of other people.

Contextual Learning Theory
Learning occurs only when students (learners) process new information or knowledge in such a way that it makes sense to them in their own frames of reference (their own inner worlds of memory, experience, and response). This approach to learning and teaching assumes that the mind naturally seeks meaning in context, that is, in relation to the person's current environment, and that it does so by searching for relationships that make sense and appear useful.

Building upon this understanding, contextual learning theory focuses on the multiple aspects of any learning environment, whether a classroom, a laboratory, a computer lab, a work site, or a wheat field. It encourages educators to choose and/or design learning environments that incorporate as many different forms of experience as possible (social, cultural, physical, and psychological) in working toward the desired learning outcomes.  -- Cord

Leading Nations in Education:

  • 43% of students opt for 3 year mixed work and learning programs.

Other Education-Relevant Research:

Retention Looks & Quacks like CTE

Dale Gruis,
Feb 11, 2015, 10:07 AM
Dale Gruis,
Dec 20, 2013, 8:35 AM