The world is changing faster than ever before. Recent advances in technology are constantly making old knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) obsolete while also creating new KSAs and increasing the demand for jobs that have never existed before. These advances place tremendous pressure on people to learn, adapt, and innovate in order to keep up with these changes. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) has been widely and effectively applied in various settings in the last four decades. This theory posits that learning is a proactive process, coming from the holistic integration of all learning modes in the human being: experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting. Learners must own and drive this process, because ownership of their own experiential learning process empowers learners to do far more than an external person—whether a parent, a teacher, or a friend—can accomplish. More than just a way to learn, experiential learning is a way of being and living that permeates all aspects of a person’s life. Given the demands of the fast-changing world we live in, what do individuals need to do to make sure they stay ahead of the change curve, remain fit with the changing environment, survive, and thrive? At the individual level, a number of important competencies need to be developed, including learning identity and learning flexibility. At the system level, learning and education as a whole must be treated differently. Education should be an abductive process in which learners are taught to ask different types of questions and then connect new knowledge with their own personal experiences. The outcome of education, likewise, should be adaptive and developmental. Instead of promoting global learning outcomes that every student needs to achieve, educators need to hold each student individually responsible for incrementally knowing more than he or she previously knew, and teach students not only how to answer questions but also how to ask good questions to extract knowledge from future unknown circumstances. Helping students foster a learning identity and become lifelong learners are among the most important tasks of educators in today’s fast-changing world.
D. Christopher Kayes and Anna B. Kayes
Experiential learning describes the process of learning that results from gathering and processing information through direct engagement with the world. In contrast to behavioral approaches to learning, which describe learning as behavioral changes that result from the influence of external factors such as rewards and punishments, learning from experience places the learner at the center of the learning process. Experiential learning has conceptual roots in John Dewey’s pragmatism. One of the most influential approaches to experiential learning in management and management education is David Kolb’s experiential learning theory (ELT) and the learning cycle that describes learning as a four-phase process of direct experience, reflection, abstract thinking, and experimentation. Experiential learning has been influential in management education as well as adult education because it addresses a number of concerns with traditional education and emphasizes the role of the learner in the learning process. It has been adopted by over 30 disciplines across higher education and has been extensively applied to management, organizations, and leadership development. The popularity of the experiential learning approach is due to many factors, including the growing discontent with traditional education, the desire to create more inclusive and active learning environments, and a recognition of the role that individual differences plays in learning. A renewed interest in experiential learning has brought about new and expanded conceptualizations of what it means to learn from experience. Variations on experiential learning include critical approaches to learning, brain science, and dual-processing approaches. While the term “experiential learning” is used by scholars to describe a specific philosophy or theory of learning, it often refers to many management education activities, including the use of experiences outside the classroom such as study abroad, internships, and service learning. Experiential learning also includes educational “experiential” learning activities inside the classroom. Within organizations, experiential learning provides an underlying conceptual framework for popular learning and leadership development programs such as emotional intelligence, strengths-based approaches, and appreciative inquiry. There is a growing recognition that experiential learning is the basis for many management practices such as strategy creation, research and development, and decision-making. Applications of experiential learning and education in management include simulations and exercises, learning style and educator roles, learning as a source of resilience, learning attitudes and other learning-based experiences, learning flexibility, cross-cultural factors, and team learning. Emerging research interest is also found in the relationship between experiential learning and expertise, intuition, mastery, and professional and career development, decision-making, and judgment in organizations.
Jennifer S. Leigh and Amy Kenworthy
Over the last three decades, service-learning has become a well-known experiential learning pedagogy in both management education and higher education more broadly. This popularity is observed in the increasing number of peer-reviewed publications on service-learning in management and business education journals, and on management education topics within higher education journals focused on civic engagement and community-based teaching and learning. In this field of study, it is known that service-learning can result in positive outcomes for students, faculty, and community members. In particular, for students, positive results are related to mastery of course content and group process skills like teamwork and communication, leadership, and diversity awareness. Despite the rise in scholarship, service-learning instructors still face several challenges in the area of best practice standards, fostering deep and cohesive partnerships, and managing institutional pressures that disincentivize engaged teaching practices. With constantly evolving challenges in management education, continued research is needed to understand a variety of service-learning facets such as platforms (face-to-face, hybrid, and virtual learning), populations (graduate vs. undergraduate populations and adult vs. traditional college-age learners), measurement (how to assess university-community partnerships and faculty instruction), and which institutional policies and procedures can enable and reward community-engaged teaching and learning approach.
Management education (ME) is a research field in which scholars employ a plurality of theoretical and methodological approaches to critically examine the people, practices, processes and institutions engaged in facilitating and improving learning and development of current and aspiring managers in a variety of contexts. Although research in the field has grown considerably in terms of both quantity and quality, ME scholars have yet to establish consensus regarding a strong theoretical foundation for their work. This foundation is important to both enable progress through cumulative scholarship and to provide directions for future research. This future research should focus on how students learn, as well as effective approaches to facilitating and assessing student learning. Strengthening the theoretical basis and research methods used in this research will enable evidence-based practice and enhance the legitimacy of this important field.