Term of Art: Experiential Learning

“experiential learning: Learning based on experiences, rather than lectures or reading. Experiential learning, also referred to as hands-on learning, can be especially helpful to students with a learning disability since it allows them to learn without being hindered by difficulties in reading or writing. An experiential approach to education and learning is based on the belief that students are more motivated and will remember concepts better when they have a direct physical experience.

Experiential learning also may have a strong basis in the nature of memory, especially for individuals with learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders. For many students, learning techniques that incorporate sight and touch are much easier for them to remember and retrieve. Evidence suggests that many individuals with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have a hard time remembering concepts, rules, and verbal information (semantic memory), while finding it much easier to remember events, people, places, and experience (episodic memory).

To some degree, experiential learning activities may provide a means of bridging those two basic forms of memory, and for enabling individuals to use strengths in one area to compensate in one area for weaknesses in another.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

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