About Experiential Learning

Experiential learning, according to the Association of Experiential Education, is a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values and develop people's capacity to contribute to their communities.

The pedagogical principles of experiential learning are:

  • Authenticity: Students understand their motivations for taking a course and learning the content. They can articulate connections among their learning experiences. The course provides a meaningful experience within the context of the student's goals and outlook.
  • Relevancy: Students understand the content as relevant to their own lives. Assessment is formative — it is used to support the learning process and guide changes to teaching strategies.
  • Connecting Experience to Future Opportunity: Every experience a student has had up to this point influences how they learn in this current moment. Students develop reflective skills that enable them to translate their learning into future opportunities.
  • Active Learning: Students are fully engaged (mentally, physically, emotionally) in the active process of learning. Instead of passively receiving content, students are co-constructing knowledge with their teacher and peers. They are actively testing, thinking, challenging, hypothesizing, interpreting and reflecting on the course material.

Primary Goals

Experiential learning aims for student achievement in three primary goals, the ABC's of the student experience:
  • Agency: Students feel ownership of their learning process and are empowered to actively engage with their teachers and peers. They are creative and resourceful with faced with challenges in their learning.
  • Belonging: Students feel connected to the content, their classmates, their teachers, Brandeis, their communities and the wider world.
  • Competency: Students are able to apply their knowledge and skills to a wide array of contexts, both within the subject and to diverse future experiences.