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Experiential learning and critical pedagogy

Core readings provided in the module pack
Selected pages are supplied from Kolb (1984) and a chapter from Simon et al. (1991). These core readings provide background and depth on the slide-based materials used in the previous section.

Experiential learning
These extracts cover Kolb’s (1984) signature ideas on the importance of prior learning and the integration of theory and practice. The phases of the learning cycle are described, namely: concrete experience; reflective observation; abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. The importance of learning outside the classroom and learning as a process of creating knowledge are emphasised. The focus of the extracts is on Kolb’s theory of experiential learning and not learning styles.

Critical pedagogy
The chapter includes four practical group work examples illustrating Simon et al.'s (1991) critical pedagogical approach. The examples covered include group works on the topics of self-assessment, pay, job-seeking and future work. Note that Simon et al. do not uncritically celebrate experience, they argue that experience must be carefully considered and reflected on. They place an emphasis on critique and evaluation.

Integrating theory and practice
Kolb's ideas can be used to assess the coverage of learning outcomes, for example, are the phases of conceptualisation and experimentation included in the proposed group work session? Simon et al.'s group work sessions can be compared with your own sessions and issues of critique considered. In the reading pack, Frigerio, Mendez & McCash (2012) provide examples of group work design linked to Kolb and Simon et al.'s ideas.

Optional extension activities
1/ Read Coffield et al. (2004) for critical approach to learning styles.
2/ Read Mezirow (2009) for a critical discussion of critical pegagogy.