The Benefits of a Supportive Experiential Learning Programme in Enterprise Learning and Development

2 minutes

One trend we are seeing more of in 2024 is experiential learning. However, the only way to provide a positive, transformative experiential learning strategy is to ensure we, as L&D leaders, are providing a supportive experience to help individuals experiment, learn and grow. Within this article, we’ll provide a deeper explanation of experiential learning, exploring its examples, stages and principles, and uncover the benefits your business will gain when offering a supportive programme. 

What is an example of experiential learning?

Examples of experiential learning include graduate schemes, internships, and initiatives aimed at social mobility. These programmes offer a hands-on approach to learning, where individuals can immerse themselves in real-world professional settings. By tackling projects and challenges directly related to their field, learners gain invaluable insights and practical skills that are often not accessible through traditional classroom learning alone. Our blog on L&D strategies further highlights how these opportunities enable learners to navigate corporate environments effectively.

What are the 4 stages of experiential learning?

David Kolb was known to create a model for experiential learning, including the learning cycle that comprises four key stages:

  1. Concrete Experience: Engaging in a new experience or situation.
  2. Reflective Observation: Reflecting on the experience to gain new insights.
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation: Forming theories or concepts based on reflections.
  4. Active Experimentation: Applying what’s been learned to the world around them, starting the cycle anew.

This cyclical process ensures continuous learning and adaptation, making it a powerful tool for personal and professional development.

What are the 5 principles of experiential learning?

Learning by doing is innate. Having lived an experience, especially a positive one, we gain comfort and confidence when these experiences happen again.  Experiential learning is guided by five core principles:

  1. Learning is process-oriented: Focuses on the journey, not just the outcome. 
  2. The learner is central: Emphasises the learner’s role in shaping their own learning experience.
  3. Learning is experiential: Prioritises direct engagement with the material.
  4. Reflection is critical: Encourages learners to think critically about their experiences. 
  5. Relationships are key: Highlights the importance of interactions between learners, facilitators, and the learning environment.

Principles 4 and 5, reflection and relationships, highlight the importance of peer learning and human connection in experiential learning, which we will touch upon later in this article. 

Building relationships, or peer-to-peer learning, is a core principle of experiential learning.

The benefits of experiential learning

It’s clear that experiential learning goes beyond the individual, offering significant advantages not only to individuals but also to organisations that embrace this dynamic approach. Research highlights the success metrics of experiential learning, including skill acquisition and the formation of valuable networks and relationships. By focusing on hands-on experiences and real-world applications you create a workforce that is not only skilled and knowledgeable but also more engaged and committed to their roles.

Here we’ve listed the benefits for the individual and the organisation: 

Individual benefits 

  1. Enhanced Skill Acquisition: Individuals gain practical skills directly applicable to their current or future roles, increasing their competency and confidence.
  2. Increased Employability: The hands-on experience enhances CVs, making individuals more attractive to current and potential employers.
  3. Improved Problem-Solving Abilities: Real-world challenges develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, preparing individuals for complex workplace situations.
  4. Greater Engagement and Satisfaction: Learning by doing provides a more engaging and fulfilling learning experience, increasing job satisfaction and motivation.
  5. Networking Opportunities: Experiential learning often involves collaboration with professionals within and outside the organisation, expanding personal and professional networks.
  6. Personal Growth: Navigating new experiences fosters personal development, resilience, and adaptability, qualities invaluable in both professional and personal contexts.

Organisational benefits

  1. Agility and Innovation: A workforce trained through this approach can bring fresh ideas and approaches, driving innovation and keeping the company competitive.
  2. Increased Productivity: Employees who are actively engaged in their learning and development tend to be more productive and efficient in their roles.
  3. Talent Retention: Offering these learning opportunities demonstrates investment in employee growth, leading to increased loyalty and reduced turnover.
  4. Cultural Transformation: A learning culture that values experimentation and real-world experiences fosters openness, inclusivity, and continuous improvement across the organisation.
  5. Long-Term Success: Developing a skilled, adaptable, and engaged workforce is a strategic investment that pays dividends in terms of organisational resilience and longevity.
  6. Enhanced Employer Brand: Companies known for their commitment to personal development are more attractive to top talent, facilitating recruitment efforts.

How to support those in experiential learning programmes

Evidentially, support is key in any learning initiative. Without it, early career experiences like internships or graduate schemes can lead to frustration, disengagement, and high turnover, costing businesses in the long run. Turn these challenges into opportunities for growth, engagement, and loyalty by setting both individuals and the company up for success. Here are some techniques you can use to provide support in your experiential learning initiatives: 

The synergy of mentoring and experiential learning

Mentoring is essential for professional development. Mentors help their mentees reflect on their experiences, offering a deeper understanding and aiding in the application of new skills. Great mentoring can significantly enhance the benefits of experiential learning, with around 70% of a mentoring relationship involving from practised activities. This synergy is crucial for effective scenario reflection and learning application.

By integrating experiential learning and mentoring into corporate training strategies, organisations can create dynamic, engaging, and effective learning environments that prepare employees for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The ROI of Mentoring

The ROI of Mentoring

How to measure and prove the impact of mentoring

What's next?

Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways Guider can help you supercharge your L&D with mentoring:

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