The Power of Experiential learning and coaching

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We often get asked about why we are so keen on experiential learning and particularly in the outdoors. There are so many reasons, where to start.

Having been involved in training and coaching through a combined 60 years, when setting up Pro-Development, we looked back at our best learning experiences, and they were all through experiential learning. So what contributes it being the best.

Retention and embedding of learning

Experiential learning is personal and effective because it influences both feelings and emotions as well as enhancing knowledge and skills. It ensures that there is high level of retention, thereby delivering exceptional RoI over a traditional learning program. Just “talking” and “sharing” what we will do, doesn’t necessary result in a change in underlying behaviours. This is because the learner plays a relatively passive role, and research suggests that after 3 months, only 10% of what is learned is remembered, a depressing statistic for any trainers and coaches out there (Whitmore, 2008).

We learn more when we are having fun

Because our brains are wired to find learning fun! Every time we’re interested and engaged in a subject, our brains get a shot of dopamine. The feelings of pleasure that follow make us want to keep learning, exploring and pushing ourselves to find out more.

But what’s more, dopamine not only motivates us to learn, but it also helps us retain that new information. Research shows that dopamine can act like the “save button.” When dopamine is present during an event or experience, we remember it. But when it’s absent, nothing seems to stick. The more interested we are in an activity, the more dopamine is released and the better we remember it.

Learning outdoors

We’re not built to be sitting on a chair at a desk for hours on end. Our brains always function better when we are in nature. Directly engaging with the outdoor environment brings enormous benefits. It helps people reflect and learn about themselves, each other and connect with their environment. We know that being outdoors supports our mental health and wellbeing. And we see time and time again, people being more mindful and in the moment when they are learning in the outdoors.

So, if you want to ensure a return on investment for the training and coaching your people attend, consider experiential learning in the outdoors. And we have plenty of programmes that can support this and many attract funding too. Get in touch if you would like to know more.

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