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Teachers’ Guidelines

Homepage > Teachers’ Guidelines > Methodological and Pedagogical Aspects

A definition of what experiential education is

Methodological and Pedagogical Aspects

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2.2 In Business Education
Experiential learning brings the learner in direct contact with the learning experience. Thus, knowledge is not transmitted from one person (the teacher) to another (the learner), but it is formed as a result of the direct experiences the learner is exposed to. The teacher plays an important role in creating and orchestrating the adequate opportunities for experiential learning to take place.

Integrating experiential learning through Business Education can be done both in secondary schools within the remits of the Business studies curriculum and in any other levels of education, be they vocational or higher education. Regardless of the avenue used, integrating experiential learning through Business Education can only bring benefits to students on which we develop below.

Like most curricular subjects, Business Education has a lot of theories that learners have to know, internalise and be able to use. What we notice is that Business Education graduates have learned the theories and have a good level of mastering the concepts needed to enter the workforce, yet more work is needed for them to know what to do with the knowledge gained (Chia & Holt, 2008). In different organisations and business institutions, those who own soft skills and who have the ability to work with, manipulate and apply the knowledge are the ones who differentiate themselves successfully from the ones who experience difficulties.

Orchestrating experiential learning opportunities in Business Education is not an easy task. Confined to the perimeters of the classroom, the closest one can get to a real-life business situation is to learn from different case-studies, yet they cannot replace the learning that can take places from direct, personal encounters with a workplace situation. Through experiential learning, we offer opportunities for learners to make real decisions, to explore the theory and see for themselves how it applies in practice. Thus, we allow them the opportunity to become flexible in their thinking, to undertake different workplace positions and learn from each of them, to reflect on their own learning and on strategies they could employ in real situations to overcome problems, to solve conflicts and manage situations.

In Business Education, some of the most common experiential learning opportunities are:
  • Job shadowing
  • Work experience
  • Create Business Fairs/Stalls
  • Student managed investment funds
  • Placements
  • Internships
  • Field-based projects
The benefits of such experiences are numerous:
  • It gives the applicant a more competitive edge when applying for jobs, as the employer is likely to be more interested in those who already have first-hand experience in the workplace
  • It provides an opportunity to apply the knowledge learnt in the classroom to real life situations, thus developing skills and competencies such as communication, IT, team-work, conflict resolution, reflection and strategy planning
  • It may help build up contact which may be needed in the future when it comes to employment
  • It is a great way of trying out different sides to a career before committing to one hence it helps narrow down your options and decide what one likes or does not like as a career
References: Chia, R & Holt, R 2008, 'The nature of knowledge in business schools' Academy of Management Learning and Education, vol 7, no. 4, pp. 471-486.
Online Resources
  • General business teaching resourcesThis website is a portal to many other sites which offer up-to-date, detailed and insightful information on all aspects of Business Education: e.g.: general resources, syllabi and course materials, journals on Business Education with free access to downloadable, published articles and case-studies from this field.
  • Transformational learning in business educationThis article, entitled ‘Transformational Learning in Business Education: The Pivotal Role of Experiential Learning Projects’ by Rita D. Kosnik, Jacob K.Tingle and Edwin L. Blaton III is a very good starting point when reading about this topic. The article discusses in great detail the limitations of internships and the pressure they put on the educational establishments and offers an alternative to these in the form of Experiential Learning Projects (ELP). It discusses the learning theories behind experiential learning, the versatility of Experiential Learning Projects and offers guidance on their implementation and assessment.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.