NFE in sport

Experiential learning: The Journey

Non-formal education is by definition linked to experiential learning – and sports do too! In this chapter we will go through the process of experiential learning, the impact it has to the learners and the steps we need to follow in order to have successful results.

Both approaches require the active participation and involvement of the target group (young people – young athletes), who share, deliver tasks, exchange opinions and are asked to reach a certain objective in order for the process to be successful. Either this is an NFE training on human rights where participants are asked to create some content or a football game where the athletes need to win the match, experiential learning is dominating the process!

And guess what! Experiential learning involves…learning from experience! Yes, we know it’s no news, but there is a whole lot that needs to be explored and is hiding behind this simple and –supposedly- superficial statement!

What really happens in the experiential learning approach is that the experiences we create and collect in the process stick to our mind and help us later retain information and remember facts. So, to test this out, try to challenge yourself! Do you better recollect a book chapter from your History Class back at school, or your feelings and the lessons learnt during some school trip in the mountains? No need to answer that! We know exactly how you would!

Non-formal learning comprises experiential learning activities that promote the development of a great variety of skills and competences. Experiential learning is seen as a four-step process. According to David Kolb’s theory, what is important is not what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you. It is therefore crucial to go through all four stages of the experiential learning process, in order to be able to end up with the whole picture, acquire knowledge and skills, and then feel confident enough to use it accordingly in your future life.

Most training methods and activities of non-formal education follow a similar process of performing and experiencing an action or series of actions, feeling and observing yourself and others at it, reflecting on the experience, drawing conclusions and putting into practice everything that has been learnt.

Kolb’s (1984) cycle of learning depicts the four steps of the experiential learning process, which includes the integration of the following  elements:

– KNOWLEDGE: the concepts, facts, and information acquired through formal learning and past experience;

– ACTIVITY: the application of knowledge to a “real world” setting;

– REFLECTION: the analysis and synthesis of knowledge and activity to create new knowledge