Implementing the Experiential Learning Model in 4-H programming – Part 3

Over a series of articles, we will break down and explore each of the five steps of the Experiential Learning Model. This part will focus on the “Reflect” or “Share and Process” part of the Experiential Learning Model.

Youth learn and retain more when they are involved and engaged in activities. The Experiential Learning Model (ELM) helps educators be intentional about planning learning activities that include doing an activity, reflecting on the activity and applying what the youth learned to other areas of their lives. In continuing the series on the experiential learning model we will explore the second step of the model, which is to reflect.

Reflection is broken down into two basic parts: share and process. During Share, adult volunteers should be asking “surface” questions about the experience. Examples of surface questions would be: What did you do? What did you see, feel, hear, taste, etc.? What was the most difficult or easiest? Youth should have the opportunity to talk about their experience. It’s easily assumed that every youth had the same experience, but we often discover during this process that youth doing the same activity often have completely different experiences.

Once youth have shared their experience, they can move into processing what has occurred. When asking questions during processing we don’t want youth to have the perception that they are being orally tested for their knowledge. This is a great time for youth to discuss what happened during the experience and relate it to their existing knowledge base. Adult volunteers could ask questions like:

  • What steps the youth used to do the activity?
  • What problems or issues came up as they did the activity?
  • How they dealt with the issues or problems?
  • If a project didn’t turn out as they anticipated, what could be could be done differently next time?
  • What life skills they practiced while doing the activity?
  • What goals would they set for the next project?

Some key strategies that adult volunteers can utilize to ensure that the reflect portion of the experiential learning model is successful are to set aside enough time to reflect on the experience, ask the right questions, listen to the youth carefully, plan appropriate opportunities to help youth reflect on their experiences and support each youth’s unique learning style.

Be sure to visit Implementing the Experiential Learning Model in 4-H Programming - Part 1 (Introduction), Part 2 (“Experience or Do”) and Part 4 (“apply”) to learn more.

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