Experiential Engagement – What does it look like?

The goal of experiential engagement is to hook students at the beginning of a unit or lesson in order to motivate them to want to learn.  The idea is to set up an activity that allows learners to personally connect to the topic and find some authentic context.

The concept is explained in more detail by Jackie Gerstein in The Flipped Classroom – The Full Picture and clearly links to culturally responsive pedagogy. It is the first phase of the instructional model I am attempting to implement in my classroom.

This post outlines my attempt to come up with an Experiential Learning activity to explain Making Connections  to Yr13 students in a way that links to their experience and motivates them to critically explore the concepts further.


  • I began by posing a question:  what are some of the top sports brands?
  • We recorded the names of favourite brands on a shared padlet which was displayed on the board.
  • We then ran a class survey using Socrative  to find out who in the class owned a branded product.
  • Results were shared.
  • I then had Socrative set up with what appeared to be a random question and asked the class if they would like to answer it just for fun.  The question was:  Does slavery still exist?
  • The results were then shared (students believed slavery was a relic from the past).
  • I then showed a NIKE advert and we discussed the features that made it appealing.
  • I then showed the class the Youtube video:  By Supporting Nike you are Supporting Child Slavery.
  • Using the Padlet tool again, students were encouraged to make a list of as many CONNECTIONS  as they could make between the videos including links to ourselves and the wider world.
  • Students made the connection between western consumerism and exploitation of child labour and could see how they were directly contributing to the exploitation of children through the choices they make as consumers.
  • The follow up discussion was around the point that the ability to make CONNECTIONS is an important life skill and essential if we are to develop a critical stance in the world. This allowed the students to find relevance from the unit and be able to answer the question ‘ what’s the point of doing this?’
  • Finally, in order to develop critical thinking further I asked if anyone had thought to challenge the information in the video.  Was it a fair representation of Nike?  Did the video represent the current situation correctly?


According to Best Practices in Experiential Learning  there are 9 key features to look for in an authentic experiential learning activity.  On reflection I believe I managed to achieve at least some of them.  However, I wonder if the activity was too contrived and whether it really provided an opportunity for genuine student exploration.  I also wonder what I could have done to have made the activity more culturally responsive?

Go on say something, you know you want to...

%d bloggers like this: