For this post, I wanted to explore experiential learning using our study tours that we facilitate at SAIT as an example, relating it to Kolb’s learning cycle.
Our study tours take students to different parts of the world to explore culture with an emphasis on culinary arts. Often this includes visits to training facilities as well as market and factory visits.
While in the classroom and practical environment, learners are exposed to classic pastries. As an example of reflective observation, on our study tours, we often will visit the country of origin of a product, for instance Paris, France. Many classic items are sampled such as croissants, macarons, and eclairs. Reflection and comparison can be made to items that were produced on the classroom.
The learner benefits from being exposed to many different concepts and ideas. They can then can then identify likes and dislikes and conceptualize and formulate ideas of their own. Again for example: the eclair the learner experienced in Paris was very uniform and beautifully decorated. How can they incorporate this into their repertoire?
Active Experimentation of our study tour occurs when we facilitate an event in which the students can reflect upon their experiences and create desserts, breads and pastries. By attempting to re-create or putting their own spin on an item, the learners have an opportunity to actively process the information acquired during their study tour.
Upon personal reflection, there are numerous opportunities to make this already rich learning experience even better. Assessment methods include personal journals, a portfolio, as well as essays on what was learned during the experience. I believe that this should be something that can be implemented into our study tours, as we currently do not ask of the learners any type of formal assessment. This would also enable us to identify weaknesses and strengths, as well as giving the learner a better appreciation of the overall experience. The article I discovered below gives many examples and concepts for best practices in experiential learning.