Comparing Theories/Wendy Paul

Comparing Theories of Experiential Learning and Constructivism

The learning theories of experiential learning and constructivism, on first comparison, seem to to have many similarities. These theories agree on the basic concepts of concrete experiences, followed by reflection, and some type of mental adaptation or new concept development that can be used in future learning. Generally, the learning occurs as the result of some type of real world problem solving, or experience. Activities can include social interactions in the form of cooperative learning, service learning, or project-based learning.

This type of learning meets criteria necessary for learning to occur in areas of technical training, as well as career training. The event of transfer of learning from classroom to field occurs within either of these learning theories. These theories lend themselves to use of internet cloud tools for activities requiring collaboration, or a collection site for access to previous learning.

One of the weaknesses of the two theories includes requiring the learner to be highly motivated. It may be difficult to assess progress with so much responsibility on the learner. Instruction may be considered less structured, and, without adherence to standards, learners can fall behind.

Differing in theorists, experiential learning came about from the humanistic perspective of Carl Rogers. The constructivist theory is the result of work derived from the cognitive theory ideas of Jean Piaget. Piaget’s work is the basis for well developed knowledge construction concepts not found in experiential learning.


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Experiential learning (Carl Rogers)