Experiential Learning in a F2F classroom! What type of learning works best for your classroom?



The three types of instruction that can be “observed” in classrooms across the United States are Face to Face/ Traditional instruction, Hybrid instruction and Online instruction. 

Ball, Mosca, and Paul III (2013) define face to face/traditional instruction as, “The traditional method of teaching a course involves the instructor transmitting knowledge and information to the students. The instructors spend a considerable amount of time developing lecture materials in an attempt to enhance the material to maintain student focus and spark interest” (p. 74). Also during face-to-face instruction, the only activities that are done outside of class is homework and technology may or may not be part of the course, depending on the teacher.

One of the techniques that I believe works best in my classroom in regards to face-to-face instruction is through experiential learning. David Kolb’s experiential learning theory states that, “learning is a cognitive process involving constant adaption to, and engagement with, one’s environment. Individuals create knowledge from experience rather than just from received instruction. Conflicts, disagreements, and differences drive the learning process as learrners move between modes of action, reflection, feeling and thinking” (Bergsteiner, Avery, and Neumann, 2010, p. 30). As stated, Kolb’s experiential learning theory is divided into four modes: feeling, watching, thinking, doing. (Academy of Art University, n.d.). Each mode has learner characteristics that define each mode, however, when combined, there are many positive implications for teaching and learning. In my classroom, experiential learning can be seen through labs, whether they are cooking labs or sewing labs. Cooking labs are considered group work and would be classified under “feeling” for Kolb’s theory, however, the learning targets for the lab are so in depth that the students experience all four modes of feeling, watching, thinking doing.

Currently, my 6th and 7th grade students are in their Foods unit and my 8th graders are in their Sewing unit. Both units require the students to take action and be more responsible. Also, when the labs (experiential learning) are going on and are completed, I have noticed that my students have made stronger and more meaningful connections to the content. Overall, experiential learning theories allow students to take ownership of their learning, which as a result, makes them more successful.

Ball et al. (2013) define hybrid instruction as the goal being “provide moderate-to-high degrees of access and flexibility while offering the potential for moderate-to-high dialogue and low-to-moderate structure” (p. 73). Hybrid instruction is also known as “blended learning” because it combines online learning and face-to-face instruction.

One of the techniques that I think is very beneficial to use for hybrid instruction is critical thinking. Brightman (2001) writes, “John Dewey defined critical thinking as ‘reflective thought’- to suspend judgment, maintain a healthy skepticism, and exercise an open mind” (para. 2). Hybrid learning, or blended learning, being that is part face-to-face instruction and part online, I think that critical thinking activities whether it be online or in the classroom, need to be incorporated into the class. I think that critical thinking activities give students a better understanding of the activity that they are doing and allows them to also explore their own ideas and create their own opinions about certain things. Personally, I am not a big advocate for hybrid learning because I was in a very unsuccessful hybrid course during my undergraduate time. We were actually “hybrid learning guinea pigs” and it was a mess. We were more online than anything else and then when we were in the classroom, everything was very unstructured and I found myself many times asking myself, “Was this really worth the drive?”

However, I am going to try to incorporate hybrid learning in my learning activity with my 8th graders when they create their menus online. Students will be required to create their own menu for a  restaurant that they create. Students will have to create a full menu, determine menu prices using their knowledge of unit pricing, and design their menu to be printed. This project builds off the previous knowledge that the students obtained in seventh grade on basic menu creation. Originally, I designed the project to be simply face to face, however, there is a lot of useful information that my students can get from the internet that will benefit them with their project. I know that if I use this technique with my students, the learning experience will be more beneficial for them.

Lastly, Kaymak and Horzum define online learning as, “gaining knowledge and skills through sychronous and asychronous learning applications which are written, communicated, active, supported, and managed with the use of internet technology” (p. 1792). One of the techniques that I think is beneficial for online learning is both critical thinking and discussion. From my experience so far with online learning, I have found discussions to be very beneficial to learning where I find myself thinking about what other people “spoke” about throughout the week. However, the only negative that I see with discussion is that with bigger classes, your discussions are not consistent or sometimes are not even acknowledged. If the discussion is optional, then I believe that the discussion is not as beneficial as it could potentially be, however, when discussions are going on, it brings in the critical thinking portion and really advances the learning for everyone. 

Watch this video for some more information about face to face learning vs online learning—- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni9Meh_QinQ . What are your thoughts on Face to Face learning vs Online Learning? What do you think will work best for your classroom and why? 


Academy of Art University. (n.d.) David Kolb’s experiential learning. Retrieved from  http://faculty.academyart.edu/resource/kolb.html

Ball, D., Mosca, J., & Paul III, D. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of audio in hybrid courses. American Journal of Business Education, 6(1), 73-84.

Bergsteiner, H., Avery, G., & Neumann, R. (2010). Kolb’s experiential learning model: critique from a modeling perspective. Studies in Continuing Education,32(1), 29-46. doi:10.1080/01580370903534355

Brightman, H. (2001). GSU: Master teacher program on critical thinking. Retrieved from  http://www2.gsu.edu/~dschjb/wwwcrit.html

Kaymak, Z., & Horzum, M. (2013). Relationship between online learning readiness and structure and interaction of online learning students. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 13(3), 1792-1797. doi:10.12738/estp.2013/3/1580


2 thoughts on “Experiential Learning in a F2F classroom! What type of learning works best for your classroom?

  1. Hi Gianna,
    For years, my school only had one option, and that was face to face teaching and learning. However, in the last few years, classrooms had the internet and projectors placed in many classrooms including mine. With kids using cellphones these days and tablets in class, I think the hybrid classroom is very close to what I am doing now. In my class, I have created a blog at englishbhs.com, where students can get the daily activities that they had either missed for the day if they were absent, get homework assignments, or just want to see what the class is doing soon. I think having the blog helps create a way for students to incorporate technology into their every day learning. I hope to continue using technology in the future. Last year, I did an activity where the students had to create a Facebook profile of their hero. I felt that it went really well. Thanks for letting me read your blog!


    • Chris,
      That sounds really cool! I have my own classroom website but am looking for ways to make it more interactive for my students. Do you have any thoughts on how I can do so?

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