Students on an exchange in Japan

Experiential Learning

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. Benjamin Franklin

Experiential Education (EE) is a concept and practice that guides our work in developing practical, structured and meaningful learning experiences.

Experiential Education was built from Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (Kolb, 1984) and is represented by a four-stage learning cycle in which the learner goes through “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p.38). The four-stage learning cycle includes:

  1. Concrete Experience: A student has an experience, whether it is a new experience or a reimagined experience.
  2. Reflective Observation: A student is able to reflect on their experience.
  3. Abstractive Conceptualization: Reflecting on one’s experience leads to the student analyzing and drawing conclusions about what they have learned.
  4. Active Experimentation: The student then applies what they have learned to a real-world experience.

It is possible to enter into the learning cycle at any stage. However, to be most effective, students must achieve each stage of the cycle.

To learn more about Kolb’s Theory, please visit the following reference:
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the course of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Ministry of Education’s Principles and Practices 

The Ministry of Education established principles of Experiential Learning to help students obtain access to work-related experiences prior to graduation. They want every student to have at least one Experiential Learning experience before they graduate.

There are four Experiential Learning Principles:

Postsecondary Supported, Workplace Linked
  • Students participate in a workplace or simulated workplace environment
  • Students are exposed to real workplace type demands and expectations
  • “The goal of an Experiential Learning experience is to improve students’ employability and interpersonal skills and to support their transition to the workforce”.
Meaningful, Structured, and Verified
  • Students should be engaged in meaningful experiences
  • Activities should be structured and purposeful with an evaluation component of the students’ performance
  • Students will apply their in-class learning to their experience
Compliant with Employment Laws
  • Experiential learning activities can be paid or unpaid
  • Activities need to comply with any application laws and regulations
  • Experiential learning experience must be verified or evaluated
  • Must count towards a course credit or credential
  • Must be recognized by the institution to meet the Experiential Learning principles

For an experience to count as Experiential Learning, you must be able to check all six boxes below: 

  • The student is in a workplace or simulated workplace.
  • The student is exposed to authentic demands that improve their employability, interpersonal skills, and transition to the workforce.
  • The experience is structured with purposeful and meaningful activities.
  • The student applies university of college program knowledge and/or essential employability skills.
  • The experience includes student self-assessment and evaluation of the students’ performance and learning outcomes by the employer and/or university/college.
  • The experience counts towards course credit or credential completion OR is formally recognized by the college or university as meeting the five criteria above.