So what is the AEE? The Association for Experiential Education (AEE) is a nonprofit, professional membership association dedicated to experiential education and the students, educators and practitioners who utilize this philosophy of education. The AEE strives to:
- Connect educators in practical ways so that they have access to the growing body of knowledge that fuels their growth and development
- Publish and provide access to relevant research, publications and resources
- Raise the quality and performance of experiential programs through our accreditation program
- Increase recognition of experiential education worldwide
SROM’s Model for Experiential Education: Co-constructed Developmental Teaching Theory (CDTT)
Person: A teacher/facilitator must plan on starting with the learner wherever they are, with all the emotional and physical background they bring with them.
- Framing: We are, by nature, goal-oriented beings. We are more engaged and more likely to participate when there is a clear goal. However, we tend to disengage and “check out” once the goal has been attained. By setting goals at a higher level when we frame the day, the brain’s goal-oriented systems are more likely to remain engaged throughout the duration of the educational cycle.
- Activity: The activity is a means not an end; during the activity the facilitator loops back and reiterates framing points to remind students of the structure and purpose behind the activity. The activity should be comprised of short, clear, attainable goals, with rapid feedback (natural, verbal, or nonverbal). The goals must be within the range of the student’s abilities.
- Direct Debriefing: During the direct debriefing, important points from the activity are discussed. This includes what is important to each learner and to the collective group. The discussion also includes aspects of what was painful or enjoyable, and their respective significance. The purpose of direct debriefing is to double check that students are taking away what they need in order to reach the goals set during framing. Many existing debriefing tools and techniques can be employed here as long as the facilitator is aware of what questions pertain to direct debriefing and what questions should be saved for the bridge-building and assimilation phases of the experiential education cycle. Avoid the temptation to go deeper as students are talking about their take-aways from the activity. Instead make sure the debrief gives each student a chance to share and point out what they observed.
Pause: The ‘pause’ refers to a significant break in the debriefing process that allows for internal reflective states to be considered and to facilitate the personalization of the learning experience. The more demanding the activity or the more complex the framing goals, the longer the pause should be to allow the brain to begin to form deeper connections.
- Bridge Building: This phase of CDTT is the most difficult part and must be intentionally guided for the student. Bridge-building describes the process of making connections between the concepts encountered in the activity and extending those concept to new situations. As students look for patterns through their newly acquired lens, the facilitator needs to help guide them as they begin to connect their prior experience to these new patterns. It can be helpful to ask the student what they thought of the activity now, in light of the goal of the learning event (the framing). The main point is that the teacher/facilitator cannot assume a student will spontaneously make the right connections and therefore must intentionally guide and check the process. To start the discussion, questions to ask may include: What do you think about the activity now, in light of the goal we talked about in framing? Why was that important to you? What perspectives or relationships changed? What further insights have been achieved? What did you see that was similar or different from your past experiences?
- Assimilation: The aim of the assimilation phase is that the learning event, its important points, and the application of the psychological goal all become part of the learner’s personal history. In the completion of the assimilation phase, the person and memory become interconnected on many levels, indicating what is commonly referred to as transference (when a learning event and psychological goal are integrated into a person’s autobiographical memory). This integration is tested by having the student talk about specific points of the learning event’s goal that impacted them and describing how they are going to apply them in the future.
For more information about experiential education and the AEE, visit: www.aee.org
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