Experiential learning is a critical, dynamic and powerful element of learning in Higher Education. Often named international and domestic study trips or study tours, this educational strategy has the potential to transform the lives of students through engagement with another community or culture. This qualitative study explored the effects of experiential learning during a two-week study tour to Italy, involving two groups of students from an Australian University during 2017 and 2018. Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood/Primary) degree, who were in their third year of studies, could enrol in the elective course entitled ‘Intercultural Understandings’ which offered four international destinations. The aim of this study tour was to immerse students in the social-cultural facets of life in Italy as well as gain first-hand experience from educators in early childhood centres in Reggio Emilia. Dewey’s (1938) philosophy of education that enabled the learner to not only learn from teachers and texts, but to learn through experience, underpins this study. In addition, a conceptual framework offered by Kolb (2014) provides a tool for analysing and demonstrating the potential of incorporating experiential learning through higher education. Findings from this study, revealing both intentional and incidental learning, support the philosophy that education is to not only educate the mind, but to develop more complex types of intellectual development necessary for effective citizenship.
A fish Out of Water: Developing Intercultural Understanding of Students in Higher Education.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 45(12).