|Training Manual in Combatting Childhood Communicable Diseases Part I (Peace Corps, 1985, 579 pages)|
|Module 4: Health education|
|Session 23: Adult learning and nonformal education techniques|
The following questions provide guidelines for deciding when to use experiential learning and when to blend it with more lecture-oriented learning for a particular situation.
1. How will the learner use what is learned? if the learner needs to apply what they learn to solve problems or do something, a more experiential approach is needed. If the learner only needs to remember the information, a more lecture-oriented approach can be used.
If the learner needs to correctly mix oral rehydration salts, demonstration and supervised practice are needed. If the learner wants to know about why ORS works, a talk with visual aids and discussion could be effective.
2. How often will the learner use what has been learned? The more often they will use it, the more experiential the learning should be.
If health workers will be recording children's height and weight on a growth chart daily, they need a demonstration, and supervised practice to learn how to do this. If health workers assist the head nurse once a year in preparing figures for the annual disease surveillance report, a talk reviewing the report form followed by a question and answer period will orient the nurses to the surveillance report task.
3. Will the learner need to adapt what is learned to different situations or use the learning as is? If flexible use of learning is necessary, a more experiential approach is needed.
A health worker who needs to be able to counsel different women in different ways about family planning methods needs to practice counseling in a situation where she can get feedback from others. A health worker can learn how to complete a standardized medical history form through a brief talk, demonstrating how to complete the form and a handbook that overviews the information needed for each answer on the form.
4. Is the learning likely to be disconcerting or confusing to the learner? If yes, a more experiential learning activity is required. Deciding what will be disconcerting and confusing requires knowing the community well.
In a community that already accepts the importance of immunizing children, but resists the idea of child spacing, the latter topic would require a more participatory approach such as using a series of pictures to stimulate discussion about the problems associated with having large families. Information about the schedule for the next visit of the mobile immunization team could be announced by the village crier and during a village meeting.
5. Is the learning completely new, foreign, possibly requiring unlearning things previously learned? If yes, then more experiential learning is needed.
In many communities the idea of giving a baby liquids during bouts of diarrhea goes against traditional practices of with holding water to stop diarrhea. A participatory technique, such as having mothers or children draw a "baby" on a plastic bag or a gourd and poke a hole in it, and pour in water as a basis to discuss what happens to the baby if you don't continue giving it water, can help people "unlearn" the practice of wit holding water. If breast feeding is commonly continued when an infant is sick, it is usually sufficient to praise the mother and encourage her to continue this practice.
6. Add other examples from your own experience and encourage participants to add some as well.
(Adapted From: C.R. Bell and R. Margolis, "Blending Didactic and Experiential Learning Methods")