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The Role of Experiential Learning in Corporate Training

The importance of experiential learning in corporate training should not be underestimated. Not only does it boost employee engagement and learning, but it also helps to achieve changes in behavior and performance that many other training methods can’t match. For example, experiential learning can help individuals retain as much as 90 percent of what they’ve learned, compared to other learning methods that result in as low as five percent learning retention. Corporate training that features opportunities for experiential learning goes beyond simple knowledge transfer. It expands employees’ knowledge base while also offering chances to practice and master new behaviors and skills. Experiential learning provides a deeper learning experience that is both engaging and fun because it enables people to make direct connections between their actions and the outcomes and to see how these can be applied at work to drive results. Here are three reasons why experiential learning can be an invaluable component of your corporate training programs:

Interactive, Shared Experiences

Unlike a video, seminar, or presentation, experiential learning doesn’t just present new material in a one-way transfer of information; it engages individuals through interaction with the material, the facilitator, and their colleagues as they learn new skills and behaviors. This interaction creates a richer learning experience for participants. In fact, one study found that experiences tend to be more meaningful when they are shared.

With experiential learning, individuals must work together to solve a problem or examine a specific dilemma. These shared experiences encourage individuals to take an active role in their learning because they can see how their actions and choices directly impact the problem and the group dynamic. This provides opportunities for ongoing conversation and discovery both during and after training.

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Furthermore, with the aid of a skilled facilitator, individuals are able to debrief on their behaviors and results within the activities and connect the experience to their everyday challenges at work. This allows them to understand how to change and improve their behavior on the job to achieve their performance objectives and strengthen working relationships.  The interactive nature of experiential learning can also strengthen teamwork and confidence by providing a safe environment to learn these new skills away from the day-to-day pressures of the workplace.

Learning Beyond the Actual Training Event

Experiential learning is not a “one and done” experience. The learning continues after the session with the aid of focused and deliberate reinforcement. Research shows that even though people quickly forget a portion of newly learned information, using reinforcement activities helps with retention. Experiential learning deepens the impact of corporate training and helps new behaviors stick, especially when paired with reinforcement and measurement tools and activities. Some examples of reinforcement activities that improve learning retention include:

  • Ongoing coaching from leaders

  • Digital reinforcement tools

  • Group discussions at regular intervals after training

  • Feedback assessments and surveys

Implementing reinforcement activities puts the learning elements in front of employees on an ongoing basis. This not only keeps the new knowledge and skills top of mind, but also reinforces the organization’s commitment to the learning, demonstrating how it is relevant on a day-to-day basis.

Predictable Results

Any investment in corporate training must be worth it, and experiential learning helps to ensure a healthy ROI in the form of improved skills and sustained behavior change. Experiential learning exercises are designed to be relevant to the real world and are calibrated to produce certain outcomes based on the decision-making and actions of the participants. Experiential learning helps individuals see clear parallels between the problems they solve in training and the problems they solve at work so that they walk away from training with a clear understanding of what success looks like and how to achieve it. With experiential learning, you gain more predictable performance outcomes and can see the real impact of training on employee behavior.

Your corporate training program may include many different elements and a variety of training delivery methods. Experiential learning can play a valuable role in any corporate training program because it offers an immersive experience that helps to produce long-term behavior change. When individuals have a chance to participate in a learning experience that helps them learn by doing, your entire corporate training program becomes more effective as a result.

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As Chief Operating Officer, Sue's extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle's Flight.

About Eagle's Flight

Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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