Experiential learning versus the traditional classroom

By this stage of our education, we are all pretty well accustomed to the textbooks, desks, and white boards that make up the traditional classroom environment. This classroom has been our main avenue of learning for the past several years of our lives, and it is to them that we can credit our smarts and abilities that got us into college and beyond.


The traditional classroom has a relatively stable schedule and curriculum. The syllabus the professor provides applies to the entire class and determines course content, goals, readings, and evaluation procedures. Students listen and participate during the lectures, they study for the tests, they do the various homework assignments and other activities. They are tested on the material, and the outcome is them having a good understanding of the material and topics. This is what we are all used to — it is the most practiced mode of education worldwide…and yet, there is still an element of getting a truly well-rounded education that the traditional classroom doesn’t offer fully. 

The main element that the traditional classroom lacks is the imperative connection to the real world, which includes the various people of all ages and abilities, cultures, languages, and lifestyles.


To remedy this problem, the idea of experiential education arose from the minds of renowned psychologists and teaching professionals. Experiential education complements traditional models of education as a method of teaching and learning that supports the individualized knowledge that occurs outside the classroom walls, allowing students to stretch in unique and creative directions. Because the learning takes place outside of the classroom, it is beyond the comfort and predictability of the student’s typical learning environment, in a place that is truly foreign.

Some of the important aspects of experiential learning are:

  • Students are sent out into a complex and unknown environment, forcing them to reevaluate their preexisting worldview
  • Students take responsibility for their own learning — they work and learn through direct experience (whether it be reading, writing, conversing, or researching)
  • Students gain valuable experience in their field of study by means of leadership on projects, internships with companies, activity-based learning, physical interaction, and many other means
  • These students engage in critical thinking based on the new situational and contextual factors that surround them on a daily basis
  • Through action and reflection, students better understand the impact and larger implications of their learning or research from a global perspective more so than when they were in the classroom


As you can see, experiential learning in conjunction with traditional education can enable students to get the most out of their education — enabling them the full spectrum of learning through action as well as through general assessment. This ensures that they are really ready to embark into the real world workforce, having developed cultural and educational competency.

Our message to students is this: “Go, Explore, Learn” – we can help you do just that at the Info Center in 105 Lippincott Hall. Come see us, we’re ready when you are!