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

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 “Apply” or “Generalize and Apply” 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 third step of the model: Apply!

The “Apply” portion of ELM includes the actions of generalizing and applying. The application piece of ELM is crucial to bringing the youth’s experience full circle. Youth need to discover how to make any experience work for them and this is the perfect place to see the benefits of being a part of an educational process or activity.

Many educators believe that helping youth to generalize experiences can be difficult to do, but it’s not. Generalizing helps youth focus on finding similarities between the experience they just had and other times when they have had a similar experience.

According to a document prepared by Dave Hileman, 4-H Youth Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, a few questions an educator could ask a youth to help generalize may be:

  • Why is knowing ______________ important?
  • What other situations like this have you experienced?
  • When do you make decisions that require everyone in the group to agree?
  • What did you learn by observation?

Educators can also help youth to build a connection between their experience, life skills, and the world around them. The “apply” portion of ELM helps youth to discover opportunities where their new-found knowledge can be applied. It can be fun to help youth build connections between themselves and their world.

Dave Hileman with the University of Missouri Extension also listed several questions that educators can ask to help move youth toward thinking about applying their experience to others. A few of the questions they suggest are:

  • What did you learn today that you will be able to use in school?
  • How will your new skills help you at home?
  • How would you teach someone about this activity or concept?
  • What would you do differently if you conducted this activity?

It’s easy to forget to ask questions to help youth generalize their experience and apply it to other situations. Proper program planning will help educators to ensure this third step in the experiential learning model is not missed. Don’t forget to plan ahead and think about the questions you may want to ask.

Be sure to visit Implementing the Experiential Learning Model in 4-H Programming- Part 1 (Introduction), Part 2 (“Experience or Do”) and Part 3 (“Reflect- Share and Process”) to learn more.

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