EDEV_507 Week 1_1

Thanks for presenting your articles in experiential learning (EL). It’s not a subject I know much about, so I expect over the coming weeks, I’ll get to learn quite a bit about EL through your postings. This will be rewarding.

At a cursory glance, however, a few aspects of the articles piqued my attention. The first is that EL seems to be an interdisciplinary approach. Crossing disciplines can be tricky business. The base questions that drive, say, psychology—the attempt to understand behaviour and the mind—pitch their level of analysis at the individual. The typical exploratory tool is experimental methodology studying the individual (or a collection of individuals). Accordingly, the type of data that such studies generate cannot be generalisable to the group level. For that, sociology or social psychology is the discipline of choice. However, very few sociological studies, for example, use the experimental methods that are dominant in psychology. It is an open question as to how much equivalence can be drawn between such disparate sets of data. In the two studies (Breunig, 2006 & Carver, 1996), this question is avoided. As a non-partisan reader, I felt that this tended to weaken both studies, which were addressed at an audience that accepted the base tenets of EL. If your goal is to produce a thesis in EL, I think that you will need to discuss seriously with your thesis advisor how much you need to address this issue.

Interdisciplinary research is seen to be important in the development of new knowledge (Baker & Lattuca, 2010; Gibbs & Barnett, 2014). Gibbon’s Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge (Gibbons, Limoges, & Scott, 2011), Schön’s (1991) reflexive practice and other forms of knowledge creation epistemologies (for example, Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995) are likely to undermine the solidity of within-discipline epistemologies. However—and reminiscent to the “paradigm wars” (Denzin, 2010)—care is needed when presenting differing assumptions about ontologies and epistemologies in a single theoretical framework.


Baker, V. L., & Lattuca, L. R. (2010). Developmental networks and learning: toward an interdisciplinary perspective on identity development during doctoral study. Studies in Higher Education, 35(7), 807–827. http://doi.org/10.1080/03075070903501887

Breunig, M. (2005). Turning Experiential Education and Critical Pedagogy Theory into Praxis. Journal of Experiential Education 28(2), 106-122.

Carver, R. (1996). Theory for practice: A framework for thinking about experiential education. Journal of Experiential Education, 19(1), 8–13.

Denzin, N. K. (2010). Moments, Mixed Methods, and Paradigm Dialogs. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(6), 419–427. http://doi.org/10.1177/1077800410364608

Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., & Scott, P. (2011). Revisiting Mode 2 at Noors Slott. Prometheus, 29(4), 361–372. http://doi.org/10.1080/08109028.2011.641384

Gibbs, P., & Barnett, R. (2014). Thinking about Higher Education. Cham: Springer. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-03254-2

Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schön, D. A. (1991). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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