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Created By N. Zimmermann

What we do is the result of observation, action, and reflection. Our behavior reflects how we compare experiences from the past as we deem them good or bad, successful or unsuccessful. We also look at the actions of others – which are good and which are bad? Then we develop unique strategies that best apply to our specific situation. In contrast to a linear understanding of learning, this dynamic could be described as circular development and it involves referring to previous experiences as well as anticipating outcomes.

In regard to education, this process demonstrates why it is so difficult to track and trace what a person has learned. Tests alone cannot reveal exactly how deeply knowledge has been incorporated and whether the person will be able to implement it when it is needed. Personal learning can also cause confusion. As the story of the Teflon frying pan shows - progress is often a surprising result of former regressions or recursions to old patterns. Experiential learning means that those behavioral patterns from recurring models encounter new situations, rules, or behavioral styles.


Holistic Learning

Pedagogical approaches that encourage learners to become civically involved emphasize the active components of learning: discovery, reflective observation, trial and error, and growing with challenges or collaboration. The ability to act as autonomous, responsible and engaging individuals are formed in broad-reaching, heterogenous learning environments, and therefore are inherently composed of a variety of learning experiences. These experiences, in turn, need to be connected by means of a consciously designed learning process.

Self-Directed Learning

Often the most positive results of an adult’s educational experience do not come from schools or books. Self-learning, defining priorities, and finding intuitive ways to succeed are also crucial for gaining competences and knowledge.

Emotional Learning

Competency-centered learning includes not only cognitive aspects, but also emotional, unconscious, or ambiguous ones. This kind of learning needs to be appreciated in learning processes with space, adequate methods and reflection in order to help learners in making use of their emotions.

Creative Thinking

Creativity is a process in which inspiration occurs through the interplay of a more associative gathering of inspiration and information and a more stringent process of assessing and sense-making in the human brain.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

The two thinking modes are the basis for creativity.

Non-linear Learning Progress

Individuals cannot constantly use all of their resources and energy. They do not know what will happen tomorrow, but life experience can help to predict certain outcomes. In this sense learning is a constant process of ups and downs paired with lots of trial and error. Therefore, we have to change our linear understanding of learning in order to be better prepared for life’s many obstacles.

Circular Learning Model

The circular learning model developed by David Kolb states, that a learner has to go through several phases from experience to experimentation.


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  • Experiential Learning

"Shifting learning to empowerment requires an alternative and cooperative understanding of learning and teaching."

Shifting learning to empowerment requires an alternative and cooperative understanding of learning and teaching.

A joint project of the Competendo Community. Implemented with financial assistance of the European Union