Experiential or action learning: Why this approach works
At Equinox Counseling and Wellness Center, we subscribe to Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. As Kolb’s describes, “learning is effective when a person is able to progress through a cycle of four stages.” Equinox highlights the importance of all four of these concepts in each intervention and experience that occurs in our wilderness and adventure based programming.
1) Each person has a concrete experience (The challenge of rock climbing for the first time)
2) Each person then observes and reflects on this experience (Observing I feel nervous and excited; I need support from people, I need tools to be safe and have fun; I was able to complete my goals to climb 50 feet)
3) Each person then forms an analysis (what occurred) and generalization (conclusion) (“I can be very nervous and think I can’t do it, but with good support and using the right tools I can be successful)
4) Each person then tests these conclusions in future situations which results in a “new experience.” (I feel really nervous about my test in chemistry; I will ask my mom to help me by testing me and I will spend an extra couple hours going over my notes; I got a B on my test because I got help and I used my “tools.:)
“Active experimentation” is key. We know that by getting kids up and moving, having fun, interacting with adults and peers and using a combination of mental, physical, and emotional engagement learning and insights are greater. Through the Equinox wilderness programming each youth can observe and get feedback on how they respond to challenging situations, practice using coping skills and tools, make a plan for returning home, and then put their learning to the test!