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Within the context of your phase, explore a pedagogical strategy and its potential impact on pupil learning.
Answer: The importance of pedagogy in the contemporary times is being realised more than ever. As socio-cultural diversity is increasing and there is also an increase in the educational experiences of the children, there has been developing an increasing need for a specific and proven effective pedagogical approach to learning. Over the years, several theories have been developed about the theories of learning and some theories have had a more influential role in the development of theories related to learning and development than the others. One of them is Jean Piaget (1971) who spoke of the stages in which a child develops different abilities and in which stage they are equipped to learn best using which method. Piaget postulates that from the time children are born to the time they are eighteen months old, that time is their sensor-motor period. Around this time, children learn only by sensory experiences. In this stage, the children are unable to make any concrete distinctions between themselves and the real world they are residing in. In the next stage, till they reach the age of eleven, they are in the concrete operational stage. In this stage children are more adept at making connections between objects and their associated meanings and they are able to, meaningfully, make calculations based on seeing things around them and sensing their environment and immediate surroundings (Donaldson, 1978). It is clear from this, then, that the sensory part of our education and the idea of learning through relying on our senses begins at a very early age. Hence, the pedagogical approach of experiential learning becomes an important approach when it comes to studying pedagogical approaches with respect to sensory methods. The purpose of this report is to categorically look at the the approach of experiential learning as a pedagogical approach, in a bid to learn about what are the methods of earning which contribute best to the learning process of a child. Conversely, it is important to realise that the idea of learning is not something that needs to be completely centred around the child; the process of learning is something that encompasses the life of an adult as well and it is important to tailor the approach in accordance with the idea that an adult might be learning as well. The document will be critically analysing the methods which are used for experiential learning and try to understand if the methods that are predominantly used in the process of experiential learning are objectively applicable in cases across all social, cultural and economic parameters. The Idea of Experiential Learning The idea of experiential learning is based on theories which had been developed by individuals like Dewey and Piaget. The idea of experiential learning is predominantly based on the ideal that experience contributes to most of our teaching. Kolb (2003) has described experiential learning as the process through which an individual creates their knowledge when experiences around them are transferred to them or someone transfers it to them. He postulated the Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) which describes within itself two models of grasping experience; the Concrete Experience (CE) entails immediate observed phenomenons which occur around the people around them. The Abstract Conceptualisation (AC) is the process which occurs immediately after the Concrete Experience and it is the process through which the individual processes what they have understood from the first stage and accumulates into the conceptualising stage, whereby the individual makes their own interpretations of what they have learnt (Boyatzis et al, 2001). Thus, the idea of experiential learning is based on two important process; the process of observing and noticing and the next stage of processing the information that the individual got. The next section will focus on an in-depth review of the approach that is experiential learning and look at the various aspects of this approach, in an attempt to see what are the advantages and disadvantages of this particular approach lie. The idea of experiential learning, as popularly known contemporary, stemmed from the ideal of John Dewey (1910, 1916) and David Kolb (1984), who both stressed on the importance of learning outside the classroom, but equally stressed on the importance of learning outside the classroom, but equally stress on the fact that without an instructor to guide them along their educational journey and give them the necessary tools to reflect and learn from what they have observed, the objective of learning outside the traditional method of the classroom is wasted. Wurdinger and Allison (2017) discover that in a average classroom setting, the most dominant form of teaching is still traditional lectures which are given by the instructor to the student. However, they also discover that, instructors are increasingly using the methods of collaborative techniques of teaching and representing information to the students, whereby they are using technology in order to teach what they’d previously taught verbally. However, there are gaps in the current literature about several aspects of experiential learning and real-life study to see how much of it is actually being used. To realise the full aspect of experiential learning, thus, one must categorically look at the different aspects of experiential learning, and critically analyse the implications of these approaches in real world and understand if there is any gap in the current literature, which is trying to understand these approaches. To do this, the paper will go beyond the ideas which have been put forward by Kolb and Dewey, in an attempt to understand the most recent and influential theories which are being applied now. One of them is the idea of teaching through stimulation, which is discussed in detail below. The idea of simulation is for the instructor to create a situation in the learning environment were a situation is created and used by the instructor to teach the students. Garry Shirts (1992) put forward theories which make a successful stimulation. According to Shirts, one advantage that a stimulation has over other forms of teaching is that it puts all the students on a single, equal scale and in the process of learning, there is no requirement to classify the students on the basis of identities that they don’t want to include. Shirts speaks of a game called StarPower, which he plays with the students or individuals whom he is working with. In this game, the identity is based on not the social, cultural or racial identity of the individual in the society they live in. He discourages individuals from using real life examples, like the identity of race. Instead of designating someone as ‘black’ or ‘white’ or ‘hispanic’, they are labelled as squares, circles and triangles. A similar theory is put forward by Falloon (2019), who postulates that teaching science by using simulations is a very effective strategy as it uses the student’s cognitive process whereby the student is able to relate to the material at a base level instead of memorising the concepts. Lazonder and Ehrenhard (2014) argue that while this approach relies on the cognitive process of the child in order to teach them, the occurrence of this kind of technique is not used very widely. This is a glaring problem in the teaching system of children because as we observed from the theories of Piaget (1971) before this, a significant part of the child’s development is sensory in nature when the child is born and it continues till the time the child is eighteen months old. One can argue that education in a structured fashion doesn’t take place when the child is eighteen months old, however Piaget also spoke about the child having receptacles to learning through their environment and through the situation they are put through till they are eleven years of age. Hence, the usage of simulations in the educational development of a child is an important tool which needs to be used in order to make a lasting impression on the child, especially in the first stage when the child is highly receptive to the stimulations which is provided around it (Aljojo et al, 2019). Another important aspect of learning from an experiential point of view is the idea of reflecting, which is an essential part of experiential learning. The usage of reflection in the learning process has long been the subject of contention in academia, the idea of reflection is also relevant in education programmes which are undertaken in the professional environment (Jones, 2002). As a concept, it can be understood as the process of learning and thinking, which on surface seems simplistic, but in reality it related to a deeper process of thinking in order to handle situations which are unpredictable (Lyons, 1999). Hence, from a commonsensical way, the idea of reflection is closely linked to learning and it is dependent on the education we have received previously. It is something that people engage in everyday, whereby it is possible that the knowledge which we are using to reflect is already in our possession. However, it is also responsible for re-aligning our views and out perspectives and making us think from a perspective which we wouldn’t have thought of from previously. Since the basis idea of reflection is something that would be familiar with everyone and it is something that everyone informally engages in everyday, it is possible that there would be ambiguity when it comes to the definition of the understanding of what reflection in pedagogy actually entails (Moon, 2004). Moon, in an earlier work published in 1999, suggests that there are some outcomes which one can expect from the reflective process, namely, understanding what has been taught, critically reviewing what they have been taught, translating their learning into action, application of the learning into their personal and professional space for development, reflection on not just the material that has been learnt but also the process through which the material was imparted, constructing one’s own theories and approaches in accordance with what they have learnt, embracing the ideals of empowerment and emancipating themselves and others because of what they have learnt, deriving from the education process questions that haven’t even been asked and having clarity in the fact that there needs to be more progress to solve problems better in the field they are studying in. Moon (1999) also understood the learning process as a process of stages, whereby the individual goes from a superficial stage of merely noticing something to approaching it whereby the subject matter would begin to make sense to the individual. After that, the individual is able to progress to the stage whereby they will be able to make meaning from the subject matter and then subsequently will be able to work with the meaning, which is, they will be able to apply the lesson they have derived in real life. Moon considers the final stage of learning as ‘transformative learning’. In the last stage of the learning process, the individual transforms their cognitive processes and they undergo a change whereby they are able to successfully understand the source from which their knowledge is derived. It has been suggested that the idea of emotion in reflection is not uncommon as the process of emotional reflection is something that is done keeping aside one’s emotional underpinnings, while some have argued that the seepage of knowledge in an individual is not independent from one’s emotion as emotions are a part of one’s own knowledge reserve and they play an important role in the decision making process of the individual (McAlpine and Weston, 2002). Another important aspect that needs to be considered, keeping in mind the reflective process is that the reflective process is believed to be a self-centred process, whereby a person does the task of reflection by themselves. While it is a widely accepted fact that an individual does mostly reflect on themselves predominantly, it is also an accepted fact that when it comes to ideas about morality and what one should do, individuals are also concerned with the idea of what is the right thing to do about other people, for example they might contemplate the relationship issues of their friends and/or family members as well (Moon, 2004). The idea of reflecting is recovering from the perceptions that it is a personal process and a researcher begins to consider processes which enable an individual to share their reflections with other individuals and learners. One of the ways in which individuals could do that is through conversation, which is increasingly becoming an important component in experiential form of pedagogy. Baker et al (2005) advocate the ideal of conversation when it comes to learning process. They postulate that conversation is different from dialogue, as dialogue is something that is understood as something which is deeply academic and epistemological in nature and is generally more formal in nature than conversation. however, the objective of a learning conversation is not the same as the objectives of a casual conversation. They define five dialectics which take place in a conversation from the perspective of learning. They define the idea of integrated knowledge which essentially postulates the importance of sense and perception, moving away from the physical act of speaking and hearing (James, 1977). This is an important aspect of the understanding of conversation and dialogue as it doesn’t disadvantage the individuals who are unable to speak or hear. James (1977) doesn’t speak about the non-verbal forms of conversation and dialogue, which includes body language forms of conversation for people who are differently abled. Another aspect which is considered is the epistemological discourse and ontological recourse. Baker et al (2005) describe conversation as going along in a linear fashion, whereby there is a process of ‘pre-course’ which takes place before the conversation and a ‘post-course’ which takes place after the conversation. Recourse, on the other hand, depends on some level of repetitiveness and is frequently understood as a kind of reaffirmation which exists to reiterate what the discourse has been about. While Baker et al (2005) speak at length about the theoretical implications of what are the most relevant theories of verbal communication with respect to pedagogy, but there is little mention of what it entails to practice such a theory in practice. In the pedagogical methods of experiential learning, the usage of technical methods is a popular method through which experiential learning could be made possible. Such an approach becomes even more important in the contemporary times when educational institutes are physically inaccessible by individuals. It has been postulated that education is a possible hindrance in the way of education, as they both are opposed to each other’s objectives. Technological forms of dissenting education, some believe are challenging the traditional forms of education such as classrooms. One of the reasons why they are considered to be opposed to each other in their goals is because there is significant difficulty in collaborating between the two of them (Laurillard, 2007). In the context of the modern world, with the available of rapidly evolving technological tools, it is pertinent to explore the integration of modern technological tools with the latest pedagogical principles, particularly in the context of experiential learning. Bolliger & Shepherd (2017) argues that with the increasing affordability and availability of digital technologies such as drones, tablets and virtual reality systems, it is almost inevitable that teaching programmes will attempt to integrate these devices for better experiential learning. Fauville et al. (2014) advocates for integration of digital technology in education and clearly defined six ways in which such an integration would result in an enhanced learning process. They proposed that digital technology would result in an increase and improvement in the communication between learners and teachers since they will be able to communicate through different platforms and allow remote communication and feedback, help to increase student motivation, expand the range of academic and pedagogical resources available to the teacher to disseminate learning, help students become active participants in actively searching for information rather than passively receiving facts, deepen the understanding of principles and concepts through the use of animation, and other technological tools and ultimately serve to reduce learner dependency on the teacher. However certain disadvantages to the introduction of such digital technologies have also been noted. Cuthbertson et. al. (2004) notes the effect of digital technologies have failed to demonstrate better learning outcomes, and there is no academic consensus regarding the effectiveness of digital technology in experiential learning, an further questions regarding the effectiveness of digital technologies in an outdoor setting remain as effective as implementing the technologies in an indoor setting. Overall, the key arguments against the use of digital technologies in a classroom or outdoor setting can be condensed into the three broad arguments. The first argument is that the use of digital technologies may negatively impact the face to face communication and social skills of students, and may adversely impact the relation between teacher and student, which was erstwhile carefully cultivated in a face to face classroom setting (Uhls et al., 2014). The second concern which has been articulated by several authors is that there is a distinct possibility of students getting distracted from the task or learning objective by the usage of technologies, which potentially places an added obstacle in the teachers efforts (Smith et.al., 2016). The third concern articulated by authors such as Cuthbertson et al. (2004) is that is that in an outdoor setting, digital technology places an artificial barrier between the student and the outdoor environment which hinders their understanding and appreciation of the natural outdoor world. Despite the concerns over the use of technology to better facilitate experiential learning, it has been recognised that it is inevitable that students will gradually adopt technological tools to facilitate learning and it allows them to be active participants in their learning objectives (Challis et.al., 2005). It is also important to note that in the event of unforeseen disruptions of academic schedules, like a global pandemic for instance, then successful integration of technological tools in aid of the learning process can be an effective means of disseminating the learning outcomes. Technological aspects of experiential learning is still a relatively new aspect of pedagogy that is being explored. Several aspects of the technological advancements which have been applied to pedagogy in the experiential concept are still being developed, as pedagogical theories and technologies are being developed. Another aspect which is emerging as important and needs further research is the topic of the role of outdoors in experiential learning. As was discussed in the earlier sections, Kolb (1984) and Dewey (1910, 1916) emphasised on the important of learning outside the classroom, but stressed that there needs to be proper guidance and plenty of reflective thinking involved in this experience. Howden (2012) recounts his own personal experience as a father, as he observed his daughter learning to ride her bike without any training wheels and learn how to balance herself and keep herself from falling down. He explains that the helper or the instructor can guide or teach the pupil as much as they possibly can, but the actual learning process will take place when the one who is learning becomes comfortable with the skill they are trying to learn. He concurs that confidence is an essential element in the pupil, when they are trying to learn the new skill. The idea of physical experience as a learning process depends on the practice of overcoming obstacles and frequently learning a new skill which they will immediately apply. For example, an expedition which will involve a team of office colleagues to go mountaineering and with each passing day, they are given more and more difficult challenged to overcome. The rationale behind such an exercise is to make the team members work on a problem together and to have them cooperate and partner with each other, instead of looking at each other as rivals or competitors, who are competing for a common resource, the physical environment makes individuals work towards attaining a resource which they can only attain together. Howden (2002) also reiterates on the importance of reflection, in this scenario, and answer the question ‘now what?’ whereby the team members need to reflect on what were the socio-cultural issues they overcame and what they collectively learned from the experience. However, it is important to realise that these approaches are also fraught with issues, some of which will be discussed below, in the next segment. The following segment shall examine the various criticisms of the concept of experiential learning. Several criticisms of the experiential learning model proposed by Kolb has arisen, and the criticisms can be broadly summarised into three categories, whereby critics argue that the focus on individual experiential learning can potentially arrive at the cost of expense of psychodynamic, social, and institutional aspects of learning. In this article, we shall briefly describe the criticisms along the lines of the three categories. Vince (1998) posits there are certain psychodynamic concerns about the experiential model of learning. The author argues that Kolb’s model ignores the several unconscious learning processes an individual may possess and in its simplicity, ignores defense mechanisms that may inhibit learning. The author also argues that power dynamics such as age, gender, socioeconomic status are factors that also play a part in the learning experience, and alleges that Kolb’s model ignores the subtleties of the roles that these power dynamics can play towards the student achieving the desired learning outcomes. Vince (1998) suggests an alternative model, where greater emphasis is placed on considerations of power relations and psychodynamics in the learning process which include emotions such as anxiety, fear, and doubt, which often manifest in denial, avoidance, and similar learning inhibitors that recognise the existing realities of power relationships in the current social context. Holman et al. (1997) views the learning process of an individual as inseparable from the sociocultural position of the learner. The author proposes a modification of the fourfold process of experience, reflection, conceptualization, and action which was described in the experiential learning theory. Holman et al. (1997) proposes a series of literary acts such as rhetoric, argument and social response, as that will emphasise social action over individual cognition and it is further argued that in Kolb’s ELT model, there is a bias towards individual cognition as opposed to social action. Several authors have also criticized the ELT model along institutional line. Miettinen (1998) for instance, argues that because the model of experiential learning lacks institutional standing, the institutional apparatus required to convert it into codified knowledge is lacking. Some authors such as Hopkins (1993) go so far as to suggest that the experiential learning theory’s gross simplification of structures and institutions and failure to account for the gradual and process nature of accumulating and assimilating experience represents an attack on the process nature of experience in learning and associated institutions. In summary, the critics of the experiential learning theory proposed by Kolbe state that the focus on individual cognition has come at a cost of psychodynamics, social and institutional aspects of learning. However, it is important to realise that research in disciplines like pedagogy, especially in the field of experiential learning, is a gradual process and research is being undertaken to accommodate new technologies and new methods of learning, trying to bridge the gap between theory and practice. There are several methods through which educators in an educational institute or managers in a work environment can apply theories of experiential learning in their environment, but the principles of experiential learning needs to be ingrained in the philosophy of the environment. It is natural for participants to be shy at first, but instructors and managers need to make sure that they are comfortable and design exercises in such a way that they overcome their difficulties. 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