Experiential Learning and Dialogical Experiential Learning

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Experiential Learning and Dialogical Experiential Learning
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands

A traditional training technique for leadership and management development that has been used a lot historically in organizations is Outdoor Management Development (OMD). As the term suggests, the technique is used outdoors (outside of the own organization). OMD makes use of various physical and intellectual activities. It is a debriefed post action approach in which certain proceses are reflected upon and discussed. The objective for managers is to learn from these discussions and reflections and adapt their behavior accordingly in future assignments.

Recently it was agreed that every individual is unique and that different learning should be applied to different individuals. A more situational approach evolved, assuming that there are various contexts and that learning is different among these contexts. This type of learning involves the consideration of emotions and subjectivity. The impact of emotions and subjectivity and its influence on the learner’s experience is taken into account in this training technique. That's why it is called: Experiential Learning. The emotions and subjectivity of learners are connected to how learners experience and perceive the world.

More recently it was recognized that being aware of how learners perceive the world is also of particular importance. The way people perceive the world is not only determined by history, culture and previous learning (internal experience), but also by their relationships with others (external experience).
Thus, it is not only about one’s internal experience but also about one's external experiences. Experiential Learning lacks the strengthening of the awareness of the learners’ experience and how they perceive the world. Dialogical Experiential Learning (DEL) fills that gap that exists in Experiential Learning.

In DEL, the fostering of awareness occurs through a dialogical relationship, which is a relationship that “occurs in the realm between one person and another provided that both are open to it” (Hycner, 1993). Thus, both the learner and the facilitator are invited to get involved in a relationship where each one shapes and is being shaped by the other. The main idea is that we can discover and develop ourselves through relatedness to other persons; fostering the awareness of perceptions and experiences in particular contexts will create and ease new learning.

Desmond, B and A. Jowitt (2012) "Stepping into the Unknown: Dialogical Experiential Learning" Journal of Management Development Vol. 31 Iss. 3, pp.221 - 230
Hycner, R.(1993) "Between Person and Person" The Gestalt Journal Press Inc, Gouldsboro, ME


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