Experiential Learning: Practicing What We Teach

By Martin A. Cordello, Master’s Candidate, TRDV 499

My first experience with university-level education was here at Roosevelt. I enrolled in the undergraduate Organizational Leadership (OLED) program at the ripe old age of 49. Sure, I had several certifications, more than 20 years of management/leadership experience, many years as an adult learner, and passion for life-long learning. As a working professional in a management/leadership role, it was challenging for me to be treated as student.

In my professional capacity, I was the leader; as an adult student I had to become a follower. Again, this was a challenge. However, as part of this guest blogger assignment, I read a thought-provoking guest blog by a previous candidate. She wrote about adult learning and how it is not just a theory but it has to be a reality. We had several things in common; scared, somewhat out of place in classrooms with much younger students/teachers, viewing situations differently and arriving at conclusions in not only a different manner but a different conclusion.

During the course of my studies in TRDV, I learned that there are differences in being able to espouse theories and developing the capability to put a theory into practice. This is what leads me to my preferred theory, Experiential Learning.  For me, it was and always will be about learning and teaching practical application, implementation, and execution. This is where I believe Experiential Learning has the lead.

The basis for Experiential Learning was founded on John Dewey’s and Kurt Lewin’s positions that experience plays a fundamental role in learning and development (KOLB & KOLB, 2005, p. 194). Carl Rogers and Jean Piaget are other well-known names in Experiential Learning. These experts and others believe that there are six key propositions in this theory: 1) “Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes,” 2) “All learning is relearning,” 3) “Learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically opposed modes of adaptation to the world,” 4) “Learning is a holistic process of adaptation to the world,” 5) “Learning results from synergetic transactions between the person and the environment,” 6) “Learning is the process of creating knowledge”  (KOLB & KOLB, 2005, p. 194).

With these six propositions in mind, we should always consider adult and experiential learning when developing, designing, and delivering training. As we become the next experts in the TRDV field, we need to practice what we teach.


About Vince Cyboran

Professor in the graduate program in Training and Development of Roosevelt University.
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2 Responses to Experiential Learning: Practicing What We Teach

  1. Helen says:

    I was in the same boat as you, Marty – returning to school as a “seasoned” learner. I found that in many of my classes I was able to use my experiences to relate to the material that I was learning. I feel that it made some of what I learn stick much more than areas that I didn’t have any experience in. Anything familiar and relatable is the best way to foster retention.

  2. markasteiner says:

    Nice job, Martin …

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