Implementing the Experiential Learning Model in 4-H programming – Part 2

Over a series of articles, we will break down and explore each of the five steps of the Experiential Learning Model. This part will focus on the “Experience” or “Do” part of the Experiential Learning Model.

Youth learn and retain more when they are involved and engaged in activities. The Experiential Learning Model (ELM) helps educators be intentional about planning learning activities that include doing an activity, reflecting on the activity and applying what the youth learned to other areas of their lives. In continuing the series on the experiential learning model, we will explore the first step “Experience or Do”.

The first step in the experiential learning model is to do the activity! Typically this works best when the activity is prepared ahead of time and there are intentional questions that are asked while the youth are participating in the activity. Before you start, take some time to describe to the youth what you have planned.  Ask them questions about the activity before they experience it, this will help to get them thinking about what they are going to do.  Some questions to ask might include: “What do you expect to see?” or “What do you think might happen?”

The next part is easy! Have the youth do the activity! Remember to give out only basic instructions that are needed such as addressing safety concerns, time requirements, organization or directions. The youth should have time to do the activity without being told exactly how to complete it. It is incredibly important that the youth are actively engaged in problem solving and working to complete the activity on their own so they can come up with solutions. Remember, your job as an educator is to guide the youth through the activity by observing and asking questions when they get stuck – don’t rush right in and fix problems – it is much more helpful to allow the youth to work out solutions. If you notice the youth struggling then use questions such as “How is it working?”  “What else might you try?” or “What might make it easier?” to help them look at different solutions. 

Once they have completed the activity then you will move on to the next step of the experiential learning model – sharing.

Stay tuned for more in-depth information on the remaining steps in the experiential learning model. S

Be sure to visit Implementing the Experiential Learning Model in 4-H Programming- Part 1 (Introduction), Part 3 (“Reflect- Share and Process”) and Part 4 (“apply”) to learn more.

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