While there’s certainly a time and place for education in the classroom, studies have shown that experiential learning—learning by doing—is more effective. Most folks learn faster and retain information better when training is hands-on. One of the best ways to do this is through internships, apprenticeships, and management training. “Whether flying a jet fighter or scooping ice cream, ‘practice still makes better,’” says Maryann Billington of Action Leadership Group. “Fail and retry. Get back in the saddle. Observe and apply. Be mentored. Apprentice. Train as if for a sport or a race. The clichés are unlimited and mostly true.” Another way experiential learning can work in practice is through role-play exercises. One of the best ways to learn soft skills is to practice them in controlled environments. “This ensures that learners get the experience they need to use those skills effectively in the real world. Most people understandably hate role play. But when it’s designed and led by pros, it’s very powerful, memorable, and effective,” says Gregg Ward of the Center for Respectful Leadership.
The Benefits of Experiential Learning