Mathematics And Experiential Learning Are They Compatible?

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Nitza Davidovitch
Roman Yavich
Nelly Keller


Experiential Learning, Mathematical Debate, Learning-Focused Approach


In the process of experiential learning, students acquire skills and values as the consequence of a direct experience. Experiential learning draws on senses, emotions, and cognition and appeals to learners' entire being. Such learning, by nature, enables the development of a variety of capabilities, such as planning, teamwork, coping with stressful situations, responsibility, and leadership. Experiential learning has many different definitions; it is referred to here as a "sequence of events that include one or more specific study objects requiring active involvement of learners in various stages of the process" (Walter & Marks, 1981, p. 1). This definition perceives the process of experiential learning as an active practice in which learners leave the conventional situation of mediated learning in favor of unmediated learning through practice. Experiential learning is based mainly on the behavioral-cognitive approach, which contends that change on the cognitive level might occur amidst an experience and project onto behavioral and emotional aspects as well. In the current article, an academic project, Mathematical Debate, which is an integrative part of the strategy and process of experiential learning is presented. The strategy of experiential learning is part of the perception of planning courses guided by a learning-focused approach, which emphasizes the formulation of learning outcomes. Planning a course in a learning-focused approach helps create dialogue between the academic faculty and students and leads to compatibility between the learning outcomes (course goals) and the teaching methods and goals of evaluation.

The purpose of this article is to present the need for paradigmatic change and the transition from planning a content-focused course to planning a course that is focused on learning and on the experience of learning. This article shall present a case study of a course in the "backward design" method, which is compatible with the learning-focused paradigm. The challenges posed by this method will be discussed as well.


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