Experiential learning is defined as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” (Kolb, 1984, p. 38). The famous four-step cycle of David Kolb depicts the experiential learning process, including the integration of concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Please refer to this link for the figure and further explanation.
The philosophy of experiential education was significantly formalised by John Dewey in his book Experience and Education. With a belief that students learn better by doing and by reflecting on the experience, experiential learning can be applied to, but not limited to, hands-on laboratory experiments, internships, Service-Learning, cooperative education, clinical education, student teaching, practicum, undergraduate research experience, community-based research, etc.
For more elaboration on five innovative teaching approaches to experiential learning (i.e., project-based learning, problem-based learning, Service-Learning, place-based education, and active learning), please refer to Wurdinger and Rudolph’s paper Teaching Practices that Improve Student Learning: Five Experiential Approaches.
For more discussion on experiential learning’s mechanism, principles, and instructors’ and students’ roles, please refer to the practices of Boston University.
For more professional development resources and opportunities related to experiential education, please refer to the official website of the Association for Experiential Education.