Hands-on learning, or experiential learning, has been shown to be more successful in assisting pupils in understanding what they are being taught. In fact, there are numerous research studies that demonstrate the importance of hands-on learning. In one study, test scores of 8th graders who were lectured on water quality were compared to test scores of pupils who constructed a water purifying apparatus. Active learning kids had significantly higher exam scores and improvement rates. According to another study, students who did not participate in hands-on learning were one and a half times more likely to fail a course than those who did.
But hands-on learning isn’t just for middle and high school students. Post-secondary school students can also improve their grades through hands-on learning. The physiological and psychological effects of the learning style play a role in why hands-on learning is so good at information retention. Let’s look at the impact, benefits, and problems of hands-on learning, as well as how it can help you boost your college grades.
The benefits of experiential learning
Increasing grades is just one benefit of experiential learning. Experiential learning allows students to try out various activities related to their subject of study in order to better determine their post-graduation career path. While students may like learning about a concept in class, once they are out in the field, they may have a different opinion. Furthermore, these opportunities might assist those who have already selected what they want to do in determining the optimal working environment for them.
While students will most likely participate in classroom scenarios related to employment difficulties they will face in the field, there is no substitute for real-world experience. Furthermore, an internship or other form of field experience allows students to make mistakes and learn from them in a less stressful setting.
Students can better interact with a subject or content if they have hands-on experience in a real-world situation. This can also help kids take more ownership of their work and feel more proud of their accomplishments afterward. On the other side, if students make any mistakes during their field education, they do so in a secure setting. This also teaches an important lesson about accountability and the consequences of one’s actions. Students can develop empathy by reading about an issue, but conducting the task themselves allows them to observe the outcomes and consequences of their actions in a real-world setting. This better prepares them for their post-graduation professional working lives.
The challenges of experiential learning
There are several drawbacks to hands-on learning that should be taken into account. To begin with, faculty members are averse to change and frequently lack expertise in mentoring students through experiential learning opportunities. Furthermore, because experiential learning is not centralized, it is less efficient for educators and more confusing for interested businesses. It’s also challenging to prepare students and businesses. It can sometimes be difficult to keep children interested.
Another issue to consider is that establishing and maintaining partnerships with host companies can be difficult and time-consuming. However, employing virtual reality for experiential learning in college can overcome this problem.
Types of hands-on learning (with examples)
Internships are a convenient and popular way to gain hands-on business experience. Students can work on-site with professionals to learn what they enjoy doing and, more importantly, what they don’t! While earning credit toward their degree, students can learn about industry practices and market expectations. It doesn’t get any more interactive than that.
For example: A student studying permaculture could take on an internship at an urban farm, where they will physically take care of vegetation and animals.
Capstone Projects are hands-on projects that allow you to apply what you’ve learned in a specialization to a real-world concern or problem. A capstone project is required for some specialties. For example, a student pursuing a game development degree usually is required to work with a team of student developers to create a capstone game. Beyond giving students experience in the field, this work can then be used in a portfolio when applying to a job.
Virtual reality and virtual learning can provide realistic situations in which students can safely engage in hands-on learning, regardless of the subject. Lifelike, engaging, and immersive virtual environments have been built. Students can experiment, explore, and learn in ways that are not conceivable in a typical classroom setting, and they have the opportunity to achieve the seemingly impossible in a virtual world. This could significantly increase pupils’ learning and, as a result, their grades.
A great example of this is XpertVR’s police training modules. These modules put students in a virtual environment where a crime has occurred or in the middle of a situation that needs to be deescalated. Facing these types of situations can be hard to deal with no matter the amount of training someone has but at least new officers can feel confident knowing they have some hands-on training.