Key Benefits of Experiential Learning

Benefits of Experiential Learning

The principal aim of all forms of business education is to prepare learners to perform effectively and add value to the commercial projects they take on. This requires both a theoretical foundation of key business concepts, as well as practical, hands-on skill-building and experience. Arguably, the latter is most important: students thrive when they are given the opportunity to “learn by doing.” This type of learning, referred to as experiential learning, is one of the most important predictors of future success in business education.

In this article, we’ll explain the concept and highlight the benefits of experiential learning.

What is Experiential Learning?

Sometimes referred to as “field education,” experiential learning allows learners to test out their education and skills in a real (or simulated) working environment. After all, reading about a concept and applying it in the real world are two very different things. Common forms of experiential learning in business education include:


Many organizations offer internship opportunities and some require new applicants to have internship experience. Similarly, some business schools and universities require students to have internship experience to apply for programs such as an MBA. An internship can be a paid or unpaid position. It provides hands-on education in a specific field to help a student or applicant learn more about a position before they enter the professional world.

Cooperative learning

Cooperative learning involves splitting time between traditional, “classroom” study and paid fieldwork. In higher education, these learning opportunities often involve paid on-campus jobs that align with students’ studies. In a corporate learning context, L&D departments may hold training sessions that promote cooperative learning, designed to enhance performance for specific roles. Such programs are usually not paid directly, but indirectly help advance employees’ upward mobility within the organization. 

Business Simulations

Business simulations provide a simulated learning environment that mirrors the realities of a dynamic commercial landscape.  They offer a real-time simulation of core business principles, as students take the reins of a fictional company and put ideas, strategies, and new knowledge into practice. This kind of experiential learning has been shown to lead to a deeper understanding of conceptual information and improved learner engagement.


Benefits of Experiential Learning

So, why is experiential learning so popular and how does it benefit business education? Let’s find out:

Improves Creativity

Experiential learning benefits learners by taking them out of their comfort zone, and fostering more direct engagement in hands-on tasks. This pushes learners to be more creative and efficient, and encourages them to take ownership over projects and results. 

Real World Experience, Without the Real World Risk

Internships and simulations alike allow students to test out ideas and strategies, practice new skills, and make mistakes without any real risk. This early hands-on experience not only improves learning but also fosters skill development and learning mastery. 

Boosts Accountability and Ownership 

Hands-on experience allows students to learn the art of accountability and ownership. They know they’ll be responsible if things go wrong, which pushes them to do better and put their best foot forward.

Less Pressure and More Learning

Learners are in a position to learn without much pressure. They get access to quick and reliable feedback that they can apply to improve their skills. Such luxury may not always be available when they enter their professional lives. 

Improves Skills and Abilities

Experiential learning can be a reliable way to improve core skills including communication and project management. Depending on the type of learning, a learner may gain skills such as writing, speaking, and task management. 

Conclusion: Business Leaders Need Practice

The task of transforming business learners into business leaders has perhaps never been so daunting.  Employers today want employees that exhibit higher-than-ever technical know-how and strategic, soft-skill proficiency. Job candidates, even those fresh out of school, need to demonstrate an ability to act and think strategically in an ever-changing environment and have competitive technical chops to boot. Experiential learning is one of the most effective ways to adequately prepare learners – in school or on the job. If you would like to know more about how your learners might benefit from experiential learning, contact us today.