National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 4. Copyright 2008 National Collegiate Honors Council.


Experiential learning is, for me, a preeminent means to accomplish goals that are fundamental to the entire educational enterprise. It is a set of strategies that structure acquisition of information, analysis of ideas, and self-reflection in order to pull people into active engagement with their world. Among these strategies are skills of observation and interpretation that require learners to take careful note and to examine themselves as processors of the details they themselves assemble into meaningful patterns, thus generating the insight, over and over again, that it is they who create the meaning they come to attach to events and to human interchange. The greater their awareness of what it is they are doing, the likelier it is that the meanings they create will confer on them the edge it takes to move forward with strength and to be part of a world they really want to be part of. In some sense, then, these strategies help students to be actors, not objects of everyone else’s acting on them. Students often say that one or another immersion experience has “transformed” them. We as educators often call this metamorphosis “empowerment.”