Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning

Sometimes I wonder why a workshop or seminar session is not going well. Have I forgotten something? Was my explanation not good enough?


In almost all cases the 4 MAT framework (like format) can help. It's a framework inspired by the works of David Kolb about experiential learning. He coined the term Experiential Learning Cycle and 4 MAT is a simplification of that cycle.

“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience."

4 MAT could help you to plan and implement relevant and practical learning experiences, and it can also help during sessions. It's one of those frameworks that is easy to understand, but hard to implement. But it's definitely very helpful and also follows many principles of learner-centrism.

The core idea is that learning happens through experimentation. You could call it trial-and-error or the application of knowledge. Either way, it's an activity a learner does. In 4 MAT, this activity is at its core.


To put it simply, 4 MAT claims:

  1. Learners want to know why they should learn something
  2. Learners want to know what's important to learn
  3. Learners want to try it (experiment)
  4. Learners want to keep their learnings, or forget about it

When I see that one of these elements is missing, the learning experience doesn't feel complete: Learners take a look at the knowledge only after they understood the relevance. Learnerns want to know what to keep (or forget) after they experimented. This framework helps to complete your learning experience.


Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Kolb 1984



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