Experiential Learning Colloquium Documentary: Helping Members Make Better Decisions through Hands-on Learning
Familiar names like John Locke, Maria Montessori, and Outward Bound are all part of the long learning-by-doing tradition. But that doesn’t mean everything tagged as experiential learning is useful. In January 2013, in partnership with National Credit Union Foundation and sponsored by Co-op Financial Services, Filene hosted an experiential learning colloquium at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta with a eye toward answering the question: How can credit unions use experiential learning to improve the lives of their members?
Credit unions have a long history of financial inclusion, helping members make better decisions through education. But often they take as a given that conveying information is sufficient to change behavior. This colloquium probed the possibility of improving financial behavior by helping people inhabit the learning. In a traditional setting, explained Professor Lou Centini of the University of Virginia, a learner gathers information, organizes it, generalizes a principle, and then tries to apply it. That’s a one-way street. Experiential learning is more like a loop: The learner takes her own experience, reflects on it, generalizes a principle, and then applies it to a new experience. With a little direction, it becomes a powerful continuous loop.