In 4-H, all of our programs should be guided by the Experiential Learning Model. This model of learning allows youth to have an experience and follow up with how the experience can help them in the future. The model is broken down into five steps – Do, Share, Process, Generalize, and Apply.
First, 4-Hers should do an activity. Whether this is a workshop, an educational activity after a club meeting, or team building game, we always try to get our 4-Hers participating in something as quickly as possible.
To start the reflection process, we have our 4-Hers share their experience. This step shouldn’t get too deep. It should simply involve talking through the literal parts of the experience. What did you do, and how did you do it?
Next, 4-Hers should begin to process their experience. How did the experience make them feel? What did you notice about how others approached the activity? The questions asked here should still be directly related to the experience itself, but they should also start to dive into the deeper meaning behind it.
The fourth step in the process is for 4-Hers to generalize the experience to greater aspects of their lives. The conversation at this point should focus on the life skills that were learned through the experience. For example, How was decision making a factor during the activity? What other skills did you learn through this experience?
Finally, we hope that all of our 4-Hers then apply their experience to the future. If the activity taught them about decision making, we should expect them to start using this skill in other areas of their lives. This step goes beyond the reflection process, and it leads to even more experiences, thus restarting the cycle of experiential learning.
For more information about 4-H & our programs in Alachua County, visit our Facebook page at Alachua County 4-H.