The Investigation and Development of Experiential Learning Theory in Primary and Secondary Education
Gobeil, Marc J.
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Aim: This study has three key objectives: first, to establish a base of understanding of experiential learning practices in K-12 education. Second, understand what is required to effectively facilitate experiential learning and assessment in K-12 education. Lastly, to develop a framework to enable and support experiential learning theory in K-12 education. Background: Experiential learning is a widely used methodology across disciplines. However, research quantifying its effectiveness at the primary and secondary levels is not available. Existing models and frameworks do not adequately facilitate experiential learning for K-12 educators. Methods: This research study utilized a mixed-methods approach and focused on applying established teaching and assessment practices. Instructors from primary and secondary education were invited to participate after implementing a project or unit of study focusing on experiential learning. Twenty-two participants contributed to the initial survey representing thirty-three percent of those identified as potential participants. A follow-up focus group was conducted with eight of the twenty-two survey participants. Results: This research resulted in three manuscripts: The first manuscript reviews Experiential Learning Theory outlining the need for academic research specifically in K-12 education. The second manuscript is the main research study that establishes a basis of understanding among current practitioners and identifies areas that need to be addressed to facilitate and support experiential learning. The third manuscript outlines a new framework for facilitating experiential learning within K-12 education, including a collection of working principles and characteristics of its successful implementation through an analysis of the literature and research. Conclusion: The analysis of the literature, survey, and focus group revealed several themes supporting the impact of experiential learning methods. Themes included significant positive contributions to teachers and students, improved student engagement, deeper understanding, and authentic learning. Additionally, the findings of this study were consistent with other studies conducted at post-secondary levels in establishing experiential learning methods as having a significant positive impact on students. The findings of this study however, emphasized the role of the facilitator of experiences and the positive impact of experiential learning methods have on the instructor as well as the students. Survey and focus group participants provided insight into topics that best support their expanded use of experiential learning. Furthermore, the available literature focuses on only one experiential learning theory model which is insufficient for supporting K-12 educators. Research conducted in this study has directly resulted in the development of a new framework with a set of working principles and characteristics of effective implementation. Future studies should include empirical testing of the new framework in the context of K-12 education, identifying any necessary revisions and additions.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeMorrison, Dirk; Yates, Tom; Aitken, Alec; Lewis, Kevin
Copyright DateJune 2022
experiential learning model