Learning by doing is a learning methodology based in experimentation or experiential learning. This way of learning through the experience stimulates the adquisition of soft skills by our students. At Best Steps Abroad we are convinced that the best way to remember information is by experience. Any experience, positive or negative, influences our way of being, our thinking, and the way we relate to others. The feelings and reactions that an experience provokes in us has an impact in our learning.
As children, when we learnt the colors, or how to wash our hands, we did it from the starting point of the experience. In other words, by an experiential learning, we first observed, then associated, and finally practiced by repetition.
In this post, we are going to share why we chosed learning by doing as a way to facilitate the students the understanding and integration of the culture of Granada and Spain.
Why learning by doing?
According to the UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative there are 4 pillars of education: Learning to know, learning to do, learning to living together, learning to be. These pillars have the purpose of facilitating the individual and social development of the students. Hence, they acquire and integrate affective, learning, communicative, civic, environmental skills, etc.
As we will see in its benefits, we believe that experiential learning, or learning by doing, is how our students come closest to acquiring these objectives. Which, not only will serve them during their university education, but the students could benefit from them for their future professional careers.
We also have our own personal experience with this methodology. Since we saw in our students and put it into practice ourselves, we believe it has more benefits than damages.
This way of learning has various beneficial outcomes since it enhances abilities and soft skills that are so much requested in job interviews these days. We highlight the following:
- The students gain autonomy and critical thinking since they have to fail and rectify in order to learn.
- They also learn to use knowledge, to be creative
- An experience contributes to self-knowledge and facilitates decision-making based on reflection.
- It stimulates the capacity for participation and to act in the most appropriate way in new situations.
- It favors innovation, the ability to devise other alternatives with the opinions and positions of the team members.
- By working in an atmosphere of trust, itdevelops the capacity for leadership, selfconfidence and self-evaluation.
Implementation of experiential learning in BSA
At Best Steps Abroad, we use experiential learning in different scenarios. For instance, we use the collaborative classroom in our course, BSA Granada Cultural. Based on different topics related to the culture of Spain, students will have to present the information to the class. They will previously have an experience of the learning topic, for instance olive oil, or tapas. And with the help of links, articles and other resourses we facilitate, they will have gathered information.
The role of instructors in this type of class is very important. The instructor has to generate motivation so the students want to fulfill the class objectives. Another aspect is that the instructor has to generate a safe environment in the classroom. This is important to facilitate the creativity and interaction of all the students in the presentation of the information.
Another example of how we implement this technique is in our Orientation for a meaningful semester. Here, we introduce our students in all the different aspects of the program that will be part of their lives during the semester. For instance, visiting our social servicies and volunteer sites, meeting their language exchange friends or living with host families. By participating in one activity or gathering with spaniards, that they are practicing what they learn.
And at last but not least, the feedback along the activity and the semester. It is necessary if we want to support our students in the development of their courses, activities and performance of their overall experience.
For many years our students have been participating in the culture of Spain by spending a semester or summer program with us. However, not just being in Granada help them to assimilate all this information, but they learnt to experience it. With the past of the years, they will remember much more clearly what they did than what they only saw or heard. Only this way, they consolidated what they learnt and it has still up to today, more meaninful for them.
We always say to our students that going abroad is a matter of money and time in their college schedules. But BEING abroad is a matter of attitude, interest and courage.