Before, During, and After Questions to Ask During Experiential Learning

person with blue gloves holding seaweed under a lens

Experiential learning is built on the concept of learning by doing. But it’s not just the doing that’s important. The reflecting part of experiential learning is the key ingredient for an experience full of discovery and learning!

Reflection is when you take time to think about what you did, what happened, what resulted, and why. This is the exciting stuff that you then apply to the rest of the world! It’s one thing to go through the different steps to complete a project, but it’s an entirely different thing to examine your experience against the larger context of understanding and global need.

Without reflection, you’ll never know if your project could help solve world problems, such as climate change or hunger.

Reflection is the part of experiential learning that often gets missed in classrooms, laboratories, and home schools. We did the thing! Now we’re done! But hold on! Why did we do the thing? What did we actually learn? Were we surprised? Did we make a legitimate discovery? Is the world a little bit more knowable?

Next time you have your students do some kind of hands-on learning, whether they are tracking the path of the sun, building a model of an arm, or building a robot that can respond to different stimuli, be sure to incorporate reflection into the lesson.

Try having your students ask these Before, During, and After questions to ensure the reflection part of the experiential learning is happening in your classroom!

Before:

Have you ever done a project like this before? What were the results?
Do you think you’ll get the same results this time?
What do you already know about this topic?
What do you find interesting about this topic?
What questions do you have about this topic?
What are your goals for this project?

During:

What are the best materials to use?
What do you do if the project goes differently from what you expected?
Is there anything frustrating about this project?
Does this project remind you of anything?
Are your goals for the project changing?

After:

Did anything surprise you?
What do you know now that you didn’t before?
What do you THINK you know now that you didn’t before?
Will you be able to replicate the things you learned in another project of the same nature?
Why or why not?
Did you achieve your goals for the project?
What did this project make you want to learn more about?

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