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Experiential Learning Project

Experiential Learning Project

The Experiential Learning Project is an international initiative led by the Experiential Education Center aimed at enhancing the quality of formal and non-formal education and combating early school leaving.

Within the framework of the EU Civil Society Dialogue Program, civil society organizations from Greece, Estonia, and Turkey have established a dialogue and partnership for an education project based on experiential learning.

Fifteen teachers and fifteen youth workers have rolled up their sleeves to bring experiential learning to schools and youth organizations.


Early School Leaving is a Major Problem

According to the European Statistical Agency, the average early school leaving rate in EU countries is 10%, while in Turkey it is around 30%. Although this rate has decreased from 40% to 30% since 2010, there is still much to be done in this area in Turkey. Among the many factors contributing to early school leaving are the student's relationship with the school/teacher and their academic performance. Traditional educational practices do not adequately respond to students' individual tendencies and learning styles.


Education Centered on Experience

Experiential Learning is an effective learning approach where students transition from being passive listeners to active participants, combining the knowledge they acquire with real-life practices. Through learning games, role-plays, and simulations, students have the opportunity to learn while having fun.

Experiential Learning Methods have been a widely used methodology in European youth work for a long time. As a candidate for EU membership, Turkey has also become part of the EU Youth Programs. Turkish civil society organizations, having observed these interactive methods in youth training within EU programs, have been working for over a decade to popularize these effective educational methods in Turkey. Despite all these efforts, experiential learning methods have not been sufficiently widespread at the local level.



Limited Resources in Turkish

The biggest obstacle to the widespread use of experiential learning methods at the local level is the limited availability of resources in Turkish. Most resources explaining experiential learning methods and learning games are in English. The language barrier restricts the local use of this effective methodology.


Solutions Provided by the Project

The project, aiming to popularize experiential learning in schools and youth work in Turkey, offers solutions in three main areas.




LOCALIZATION

The project developed the website www.deneyimselogrenme.com where resources and methods related to experiential learning are translated into Turkish. Furthermore, a search engine on the website allows users to find applicable games by type.


ADAPTATION

Since experiential learning-based educational methods are often designed in international contexts, they may not fully respond to local realities and needs. For example, a learning game on combating discrimination developed in another country may differ in content, characters, and themes from local needs in Turkey. To adapt experiential learning games to local realities, Turkish and European experts working on the project have developed an adaptation method using Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed techniques.


LONG-TERM TRAİNİNG OF TRAİNERS

A long-term trainer training program was implemented to increase the use of experiential learning in local schools and civil society organizations. Fifteen teachers and fifteen youth workers from various cities in Turkey received an intensive week-long training in Istanbul in July 2016. After the training, the teachers went on a study visit to Estonia in September 2016 to observe good practices in schools. In Estonia, where the school dropout rate is below the European average, they visited the Ministry of Education and special project schools. The youth workers went to Greece to observe and share methods with organizations working with disadvantaged youth and refugees.


LOCAL APPLICATIONS

Educators who implemented what they learned during the overseas study visits incorporated experiential learning methods into the training programs they provided to their target groups in schools and civil society organizations. Adopting a dialogue-based approach, they took steps towards becoming educators who engage with learners in a tailor-made manner, focusing on experience rather than top-down information transfer.


TRANSFORMATION IN EDUCATORS' OWN WORDS

“I used to be somewhat authoritarian. After especially reading Freire, I started to allow students to express themselves more freely. Secondly, I began to teach boring grammar topics using the learning games we learned. The result was a more enjoyable, student-centered, lasting, and freer class.” – English Teacher

“I realized that there could be a very different meaning behind what is visible. I saw that the process of dialogue and education is a process that tries to liberate people. I realized this is very important and should not be overlooked in education.” – Youth Worker

“I experienced that sometimes the teacher can be an obstacle to learning. Because when trying different practices from the traditional system, my expectations from the students were low. Seeing their changes and creativity triggered me. Now, I think more about finding better and more lasting methods.” – Guidance & Sociology Teacher



EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING SUMMIT

The project, which ended in February 2017, concluded with an important summit.

The Experiential Learning Summit, held in Istanbul on February 11, 2017, and the first of its kind in Turkey, brought together academia, the public, and civil society. An Education Book, including all the methods produced and followed during the project, was shared with representatives of formal and non-formal education at the summit.

The full-day summit included not only the sharing of project results but also panels with significant speakers and practical workshops where learning games were shared. David KOLB, the founder of experiential learning theory, shared his latest work in experiential learning with summit participants via teleconference.


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02.2016 - 02.2017

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non-formal education, Formal Education

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Target group

Teachers
Youth Workers
Disadvantaged Youth

Project Outputs

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Projects in Numbers

2

Idea Output

3

Country

300

Participant

Project Gallery

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