ENRICHING THE CLASSROOM WITH EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
This presentation will emphasize the significance of incorporating experiential learning strategies into abnormal and other psychology curriculum in order to better prepare students to effectively function in real-world encounters and to professionally apply conceptual knowledge to new experiences in the global environment. Pedagogical literature provides abundant evidence that learning is most effective when conceptual knowledge is combined with first-hand experience of the phenomenon being studied. Experiential activities induce emotionally charged learning, which imposes a stronger impact on understanding, memory retention, and critical thinking (Andresen, Boud and Cohen, 2000; Cantor, 2003; O’Sullivan, 1993, Mayo, 2004; Hubbs & Brand, 2005). Mirroring Kolb's Experiential Learning model, experiential learning is broadly defined as learning in which the experience of the learner occupies a central place; the learner analyzes his/her experience by reflecting, evaluating, and reconstructing it in order to draw meaning from it and to further apply the gained knowledge. Experiential learning includes various programs such as internships, fieldwork and clinical experience, service learning, study abroad and cultural immersion, but also activities that can be incorporated into various coursework assignments and projects (Grand, 2005; Cantor, 2003; Andresen, Boud and Cohen, 2000; DeCourcy, 1998; Forrest, 2005). Research further suggests that when properly administered and completed by students, experiential projects naturally embody an interdisciplinary approach to grasping the concepts and foster a diverse sociocultural and global perspective. Drawing on her international experience in teaching abnormal and other psychology courses, the author will share insights about the effectiveness and challenges of various forms of experiential learning.
© 2008 Victor Karandashev