Although experiential education is really the oldest approach to learning, its practitioners have not had an easy time justifying its relevance in the modern educational world. Recent changes in the methodologies of evaluation have provided useful tools for experiential educators. Such tools can be used to refine programming, enhance student learning, and perhaps improve the credibility of the field. Qualitative approaches to assessment and evaluation are becoming more common, usually in addition to--but sometimes in place of--quantitative approaches. While past evaluation methods have provided evidence of the effectiveness of experiential learning techniques, the current challenge is to develop methods to answer questions about how experiential education works, including the transfer of experiential learning to other contexts. Eight criteria outlined by Eisner provide a framework for evaluation that is consistent with the premises of experiential education programs. The reliability, clarity, and usefulness of findings improve when several evaluation methods are used. Good evaluation also depends on improving relationships between practitioners and evaluators. Collaborative planning will improve the quality of evaluation design and the applicability of findings, while collaboration in the communication of findings will narrow the gap between research and practice. Several major impediments that keep evaluation findings from being read are outlined, along with responses to increase reader interest and ease of use. Contains 11 references. (SV)
ERIC Digests; Teacher Researcher Cooperation
1 - Available on microfiche
ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Charleston, WV.
Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.