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Top Secrets of Experiential Learning You Should Know

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

Experiential learning supports employee engagement and employee development by building knowledge and skills and offering a path for successful application in the workplace. When they learn by doing, individuals learn how to change their behaviour in order to improve performance and have a greater impact on the workplace. Another benefit of experiential learning is that individuals remember as much as 90% of what they learned, compared to only 5% for traditional learning. This degree of retention helps individuals apply more of what they learned, even long after training has taken place. Here are four ways experiential learning supports employee development.

It Provides Hands-On Experience

Of all of the different ways that individuals learn, learning by doing provides a unique opportunity to transform the theoretical into the practical. In experiential learning exercises, individuals have opportunities to practice new skills and see how certain adjustments in their behaviour can help them achieve a better outcome. When experiential learning is applied to workplace challenges such as leading others, managing conflict or improving team communications, individuals don’t just read or hear about the challenges; they learn how to handle them themselves with hands-on experiences that mimic the workplace.

Why choose experiential learning? Discover everything you need to know about TYCOON experiential learning cycle.

Participants Learn Through a Facilitated Debriefing Session

A key component of experiential learning is engaging in a facilitated debriefing session as a group. In the debriefing session, a skilled facilitator offers insights and asks probing questions that help increase each individual’s understanding and mastery of the new skills. A research found that teams that conduct debrief perform an average of 20-25% better than those that don’t. It enhances the effectiveness of experiential learning by:

  • Building a conviction so that participants will want to succeed in learning new skills and applying them in the workplace

  • Helping participants see the difference between what they did during a training scenario and what they can do to achieve a different outcome

  • Helping participants connect the dots between their behaviours in training and desired behaviours in the workplace

It Is Not Just a Knowledge Transfer

Reading a book, watching a video, or listening to a lecture are all great ways to gain knowledge, but they don’t often translate into immediate behaviour change. Experiential learning is essential for employee development because it builds knowledge and skills, both of which are critical for application in the workplace. For example, in an experiential learning session aimed at building teamwork effectiveness, participants not only learn the specific characteristics of an effective team, but they also learn and practice the required behaviours to build and sustain a high-performance team. By engaging in the behaviours required for a team to operate successfully, participants learn which behaviours work well and which impede the effectiveness of the team.

It Provides Real-World Relevance

Traditional, off-the-shelf training might provide a basic overview of a range of workplace skills, but it often lacks enough relevance to be engaging for participants. Experiential learning boosts employee development and performance by putting knowledge and skills learned into a real-world context, bringing workplace skill-building to life. When people participate in an experiential learning exercise, they become fully immersed in an activity that is a metaphor for a challenge they face in the workplace. Through their active involvement in solving the problem laid out in the learning activity, combined with periodic discussions and debriefs, participants have multiple opportunities to see the parallels between the learning experience and how they can apply the new skills and knowledge at work.

Employee development relies on providing individuals with the tools to apply new knowledge and skills in the workplace. Experiential learning is an ideal choice for giving individuals opportunities to learn and practice, making it more likely they will use what they learned once they are back at work. Through experiences that allow them to learn by doing, employees become better equipped to have a more positive and high performing impact in the workplace.


TYCOON™ as an experiential learning tool

TYCOON™ is a powerful experiential learning tool, also a business simulation board game - the philosophy behind TYCOON in which we purposefully engage with participants in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase self-awareness, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people's capacity to contribute to their organisation and communities.

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