Experiential Learning

Engineering Areas
Group or individual
Amount of people
Up to 15, 15-25, 25+
Type of activity
Collaborative team setting, On-line Classroom activity
Half an hour or less, Between half an hour and one hour, Between one and two hours, More than 2 hours
Type of class


What is this technique about

Experiential Learning can be defined as “learning by doing” as it blends learning with experience, and therefore covers a very broad knowledge development process. Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, so it happens by doing and living rather than just studying. Students can thus correctly understand the impact of the subject/activity. Experiential learning motivates students and increases class participation by allowing them to connect on an intellectual, emotional, and social level. This technique includes a variety of techniques such as critical thinking and analysis skills, self-reflection, decision-making , and becoming accountable. In this context, the learner is questioning, experimenting, being creative, problem solving, analyzing, taking risks, etc. and thus can acquire skills.

Where does it come from 

In the 20th century, David A. Kolb developed the modern concept of experiential learning based on the learning process for the individual, known as Kolb’s experiential learning model. It was developed in the 1970s and became an innovative and original educational approach (Kolb, 2005).

For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)

This learning technique is used for students to learn through personal experience, as learning is constructed and assimilated by students’ personal reflections on their own decisions, responsibilities, and consequences. The role of the teacher is to provide the necessary instructions for the development of education and to guide students through their hands-on learning processes.

Some of the main benefits are:

    • It increases student motivation and learning participation as it makes students aware of the direct connections between what they have learned and past/future experiences.
    • Experiential learning encourages self-reflexive habits and provides accountability skills.
    • It improves their ability to apply knowledge and make connections between their work and experience, which improves long-term memory.

How to use it

It is important to consider the relevance of the proposed activity to promote an appropriate learning experience for your students. Not every educational activity is suitable for the purposes of this type of learning, so you should consider the educational needs of your students and the objectives of the education.

To turn your engineering teaching into an experiential learning process, consider the following:

    • Identify the goals of your education and the needs of your students. You should suggest an activity/experience that meets both requirements.
    • Design an activity that can combine theoretical training with real experience. Make sure your students understand the reasons behind the activity and give them the necessary instructions to succeed. Remember that the purpose of this learning is to reflect knowledge as you experience it.

How to implement this techniques online

Preparation, what do before the session

    1. An online application of experiential learning requires active student participation, which goes beyond theoretical studies. To do this, the instructor/teacher needs to make a course plan ahead of the actual course. The preparation of the instructor/teacher will depend on what the lesson plan contains. The most important factor to be considered at this stage is to have reviewed all the steps of the lesson plan. Having made the necessary technological and academic preparation will enable the instructor/teacher to foresee potential problems.

During application, i.e., while giving the session

    1. The options for experiential learning technique are vast: any activity that involves active student participation could be an experiental learning activity. Examples could be as follows:
        1. using an online drawing application
        2. or a software that prompts students to create a 3D profile of an image
        3. or using gamification technique could be helpful in putting theoretical knowledge to work
        4. Laboratory tasks (“Remote Labs” for online research and online learning)
        5. project based exploration and learning
        6. cooperative or group based tasks
    1. In all of these exercises, students could be given the actual tasks of solving specific problems, and they both cooperate and compete against each other while solving the problem. In all of these examples, the key is enabling students by allowing them to experience the related engineering process(es).
    2. As a facilitator, you need to keep time and organize (start/end and make sense of) the activities.

Follow-up, about what to do after the session

    1. Provide feedback to your students about your observations on what went well, or what and how things could be improved.
    2. Encourage your students to reflect on their own personal experience.
    3. Make sure to help your students to find connections between concrete experience such as simple observation and abstract ideas such as theory.

Tools needed



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Fok, W. W. T., Chan, C. K. Y. (2005). Experiential learning for Engineering Education.

Kolb, D. A. (2005). David A. Kolb on experiential learning.


Wurdinger, S.D. (2005). Using Experiential Learning in the Classroom. Lanham: ScarcrowEducation

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