Experiential Learning: A Faculty Dialog

As part of Middle Georgia State University’s Knowledge@Work initiative, a group of faculty met to explore what experiential learning means at our University. The discussion began with a review of what Knowledge@Work is all about. Referring to initiative’s Executive Summary, we agreed:

Knowledge@Work engages students to think critically and creatively within an experiential learning environment, deepening learning and intensifying the educational impact of the experience.

With this as a foundation, we sought to explore how we, as faculty, could achieve the levels of deep learning articulated in the plan. To guide our discussion we used the work of UC Davis’ Science, Technology and Environmental Literacy Workgroup that very generously shared their Experiential Learning Training Modules. The genesis of their work is David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory as adapted by Pfeiffer and Jones in 1985. The five-step model (shown below) offers a convenient way to discuss the application of experiential learning.


Figure 1 - Pfeiffer and Jones (1985) Model
Figure 1 – Pfeiffer and Jones (1985) Model

Using this as a guiding model, we reached out to Middle Georgia State University students, faculty and recent graduates to learn about how experiential learning is being conducted. For each of the five steps we asked a specific question. Below is a list of the questions followed by short videos of what they had to say.

Question 1: Can you share a learning experience that you would classify as experiential learning? In particular what did the students do?


Question 2: Did the students have an opportunity to share their experience, their reactions and observations? In other words did they share What Happened?


Question 3: After the experience, did the students have an opportunity to reflect and answer the question What’s Important?


Question 4: Sometimes the highest fidelity learning occurs after the fact when we generalize what we learned and ask the question So What? Can you share any examples of students connecting their experience with real world issues.


Question 5: Often these experiences are the catalyst for other learning or action. Do you have any examples of how students answered the question Now What? In other words how they might apply what they learned to other situations?


Question 6: What was the most valuable take away for you?


The entire Knowledge@Work team would like to thank the following students, faculty and recent graduates who very kindly shared their experiences:

  • Sarah Hollifield, BSIT Graduate
  • Patrick Layson, History Major
  • Myungjae Kwak, School of IT
  • Sandra Monk, School of Health Sciences
  • Jessica Patnode, Education major
  • Wendy Pooler, School of Education
  • Carol Sargent, School of Business
  • Caleb Talmage, BSIT Graduate
  • Stephen Taylor, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Laura Thomason, Interim Director of International Programs
  • Chris Tsavatewa, Director, Office of Experiential Learning