NFE in sport

The concrete or direct experiences we all have provide materials for observation and thought, which eventually lead to realization and formation of abstract concepts. The latter on their turn can be actively used in new environments and thus create experiences, as shown in the diagram:

Experiential learning involves the following features:

• Experiences are carefully chosen for their learning potential.
• The learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning, and is challenged to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
• Reflection on learning during and after one’s experiences that leads to analysis, critical thinking, and synthesis.
• Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, and/or physically, which produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
• Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others, and learner to the world at large.

During experiential learning, the facilitator’s role (in our case also the sports’ providers role) is to:

• Select suitable experiences that meet the criteria above.
• Pose problems, set boundaries, support learners, provide suitable resources, ensure physical and emotional safety, and facilitate the learning process.
• Recognize and encourage spontaneous opportunities for learning, engagement with challenging situations, experimentation (that does not jeopardize the wellbeing of others) and discovery of solutions.
• Help the learner notice the connections between one context and another, between theory and the experience and encourage this examination repeatedly.

However, experiential learning should be ruled by certain principles and be quite structure despite its flexibility and fluidity: intention, authenticity, planning, clarity, orientation and training, observation and assessment, continuous improvement, assessment and recognition, are some of the most important ones.

“It is not enough to insist on the need for experience. It is the quality of the experience that matters most.”
John Dewey