The Value of Hands on Experience in the Classroom

Hands On Experience

When you think back over the lessons you have learned throughout your life, how many of those came from a lecture only environment? How many came from reading it in a book? How many came from participating in hands-on activities?

Most likely, you stored more hands-on experiences in your long-term memory than you did lectures or reading textbooks. This is because hands-on experience uses more of your senses, giving you multiple opportunities to make the information meaningful enough to store it for life.

Hands-on instruction uses kinesthetic and tactile methods, where touch, feel, smell, taste and hearing can enhance the learning experience. This type of multi-sensory learning enriches the mind and helps you retain what you learn for much longer than lectures or reading alone.

Hands-on experiences can reinforce what has been taught through lectures. Students have individualized learning styles. By combining hands-on activities with lectures and text readings, a professor can provide opportunities for all students to better retain information.

Curriculum retention is one of the many benefits of hands-on experience in the classroom.


Curriculum Retention

Purdue University conducted a study in which they tested two groups of students on how well they grasped knowledge. One group was lectured, and one group was taught through hands on experience.

Many college students use memorization skills to study for tests. Memorizing information works, but information is not always stored in a person’s long-term memory. This means the information they memorize is lost after a certain period, anywhere from a few days to a few years, unless the information is repeated over and over.

Hands on experiences take the information in textbooks and lectures and brings it to life, making it more meaningful, and helping students store it in their long-term memory. This is one of the best ways to retain curriculum.

It is also a terrific way to increase student engagement.


Increased Engagement

Increased engagement means students are showing an interest in the material being taught. It means they are curious and interested in learning the material.  It means they are motivated and eager to understand more.

It’s important that students believe they can learn. Hands on activities show students they have this talent and are capable to learn and make knowledge meaningful. Faculty members are essential to making learning a positive experience for students.

Reports show students are driven by four goals: satisfying their need to work with others and build relationships; the need to feel successful and rewarded; the need to understand what is being taught; and the need to be creative and original.

Hands-on activities can help students meet these goals through practice on a regular schedule.


Practice for Student and Professor

Practice leads to improvement. The more you can practice an activity, the better your performance. This is true for both students and professors. Practice is not about being perfect, however. It is important to recognize mistakes will happen. Use them as learning moments.

Practice is about committing time to solving a problem with any tools and materials available. Doing so allows students and professors to build a partnership and become better coaches for future learning opportunities.

Practice can also lead to students improving their abilities to solve problems.


Improved Problem Solving

There are specific steps that happen in problem solving. These steps, when implemented in hands on activities in the classroom, make solving problems easier.

The first steps are to identify what the problem is. This may sound like common sense but sometimes people get eager to get to the finished product and skip this step altogether, wasting time and effort. The second step is listing all the viable solutions, then analyzing those solutions to select the best one.

Once everyone agrees, the last step of completing the activity is done. To go beyond this step, you can evaluate how you did in each step.

Often, problem solving will require creativity. Hands-on activities encourage creativity from students.


Fosters Creativity

Creativity is a skill you can learn. It is also a skill you can teach. Creativity involves cognitive processes help students understand subject matter. It can even go beyond that, helping students find new and more powerful ways to learn.

Creativity can lead to inventions or finding new ways to solve old problems. In a college class, and through hands-on experiences, students can use critical thinking skills to develop solutions. This is one skill that can set them apart when in the real world.

Creativity also allows students varied outlets to express themselves and the work they are doing, as well as making connections to others through their creative works.

One thing that can further a student’s creativity is constructive feedback from the professor.


On the Spot Feedback

Once a student graduates from college and begins a career, they will need to be able to accept criticism from authority figures in the workforce. They need to be able to accept criticism and use it to make improvements.

Providing hands-on experiences in the classrooms allow students to receive critiques from their professor. They learn to take the critiques and turn them into positive applications.

Constructive criticism is a form of communication that helps students think about the job at hand and create a solution to your problem. A critique in the classroom is meant to be a positive, encouraging statement to better your situation.

It is not meant to be taken offensively, but in appreciation for assistance in helping you become better at your job. Feedback is something you will receive often when working in the real world. It is better to learn how to process and use it to your benefit before graduating and entering a career.

The value of hands on experience benefits students far beyond the classroom. An employer will be eager to hire someone who already knows how to retain information, develop solutions to problems quickly, shows creativity to improve their work, and who sees constructive criticism as a way to become a much better employee. At SBBCollege, we believe in setting graduates up with the practical skills they need in the future.