Valuing experience and learning module

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Lifelong Learning

We hear the term often enough but what does it really mean?

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Lifelong learning - "the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people's lives in order to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfilment (Collins English Dictionary)

So if we are continuously developing and improving our skills how can we identify at any given point in time that we have learned from our previous experience?

What does learning from experience mean?

"Learning from experience is different from 'formal learning': it is largely unstructured; it is more personal, more individualised and is often unconsciously gained. It is, however, just as real as learning which is gained in a formal academic setting. What is more, it is usually more permanent: it is not readily forgotten or lost." (VaLEx, 2005, p 5).

To gain learning from an experience involves a process that creates meaning from the experience.

This process has been described by Kolb as the Experiential Learning Cycle

this involves:

1. having an experience or an event occuring (doing/having an experience)
2. reflecting on and thinking about the event (reviewing/reflecting on the experience)
3. generalising about the experience (concluding/learning from the experience)
4. applying the ideas in new situations (planning/trying out what you have learned)



The key part to learning from experience is reflection

"Learning through reflection is a skill that involves thinking about our own experiences from the past, thinking about our feelings about those experiences and drawing out some of the lessons that we have learned from those experiences." (SCQF, 2010, p 29)

"Reflection enables the integration of new experiences and understanding with previous or existing knowledge and skills. It can therefore be a transformative process." (SCQF, 2010, p 21)

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Using your search skills find out more about Experiential Learning and Reflection

here are some links to get you started

The Experiential Learning Cycle
Reflection for Learning

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Thinking about what you have learned ask yourself the following question:

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What questions could you ask someone to help them reflect on their own experience?

NB; An excerpt from your learning journal is not required for this module. Time to value your own learning.


Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003 accessed from

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. (2010.) Facilitating the Recognition of Prior Learning: Toolkit. Retrieved from

VaLEx. (2005). Valuing Your Learning from Experience. A Learners Guide. Retrieved from