Scale of Experientiality
01 Oct 2005
|Psychosocial mode||10 - Social Growth||Becomes exemplary community member|
|9 - Personal Growth||Pursues excellence and maturity|
|Development mode||8 - Mastery||Develops high standard of quality performance|
|7 - Competence||Strives to become skilful in important activities|
|Productive mode||6 - Challenge||Sets difficult but desirable tasks to accomplish|
|5 - Generative||Creates, builds, organizes, theorizes, or otherwise produces|
|Analytic mode||4 - Analytical||Studies the setting and experience systematically|
|3 - Exploratory||Plays, experiments, explores, and probes the setting|
|Receptive mode||2 - Spectator||Sees the real thing in normal setting|
|1 - Stimulated||Sees motives, TV, and slides|
Figure 1. Gibbons and Hopkins (1980) scale of experientiality
A good summary of the Gibbons and Hopkin's model is provided by Priest and Gass (1997, pp. 143-144):
In an attempt to avoid increasing confusion surrounding the definition and applications of experiential education, Gibbons and Hopkins (1980) developed a scale of experientiality that outlined various degrees of experiential programming. Their scale refers to the among of actual experience in the learning situation. Five criteria determine this amount, including the degree to which:
- experience was mediated, that is, the more "direct" the experience, the more experiential,
client was involved in the planning and execution of the experience
client was responsible for what occurred in the experience
client was responsible for mastering the experience to fullest extent possible, and
experience enabled clients to grow in directions that were helpful to them
Based on these five criteria, the authors identified five increasing modes of experientiality: receptive, analytic (examination), productive, developmental, and psychosocial. With two submodes for each mode, a total of ten submodes represented a continuum of experientiality from least to most experiential...Each of these mode and submode experiences has a cumulative effect, with the more experiential modes possessing the elements of less experiential modes beneath them (see Figure).
In the receptive mode, experiences, or representatives of them, are presented to learners who remain a passive audience throughout. In these simulated experiences, learners passive experience slides, pictures, films, or other simulations of reality. In the spectator experience, learners experience the objects of the study, but only as an observer.
In the analytic (examination) mode, learners conduct field studies in which they apply theoretical knowledge and skill in order to examine an event, analyze an aspect of the environment, or solve a practical problem. The exploratory experience exposes learners to interesting sites and encourages them to explore the possibilities of materials at hand. In the analytical experience, learners study systematically, often applying theory to solve problems in practical situations.
In the productive mode, learners generate products, activities, and services that have been assigned by you or that they have devised themselves. The generative paradigm allows people to learn by building, creating, composing, organizing, or otherwise generating products in appropriate settings. Naturally, the challenge experience challenges them or allows them to challenge themselves as they pursue goals of productivity or accomplishment that they must struggle to achieve.
In the developmental mode, learners pursue excellent in a particularly field by designing and implementing long-term programs of study, activity, and patience. The competence experience encouragers learners to focus on a particular field, to practice skills involved, to become absorbed in the activity, and to achieve recognized competence in it. The mastery experience encourages learners to go beyond competence to develop commitment, to set high personal standards in their pursuit of excellence in a field of activity, and to become a master of their chosen area.
In the psychosocial mode, learners understand themselves and their relationships with others. They accomplish tasks presented by their particular stage of development towards maturity and make contributions to the lives of others. The personal growth experience enables learns to gain understanding of themselves as unique individuals and to gain knowledge of effectively and responsibility directing their own activities. The social growth experience enables learners to become more socially competent with people of all ages and to act in more socially-responsible ways, using their accomplishments in service to the community.
A more indepth commentary is provided by Horton and Hutchinson (1997):
Criteria for Selecting Level of Experience. When designing educational experiences, it is important to consider not only the level of involvement for each experience, but also the standards of quality for the experience and the learners' ability to respond. For example, observing a live presentation by "Bill Nye the Science Guy" might rank low on a scale of experientiality but high on a scale of quality. However, if learners are not prepared for or capable of responding to Nye's presentation, the experience will be low on a scale of readiness to learn. The same can be said for the environment in which the experience is facilitated. Watching the presentation on television will have a much different effect on the learner than watching it live on stage.
When matching experiences with content, one must begin by establishing a range of experientiality for the unit. To facilitate the process, Gibbons (1980) has adapted this aspect of decision-making to the following hierarchy of experiences:
- Receptive mode. Experiences, or representations of them, are presented to learners, who remain a passive audience throughout.
- Simulated experience. Learners passively experience slides, pictures, videos, and other simulations of reality.
- Spectator experience. Learners experience the object of study with all senses, but as observers.
- Analytical mode. Learners conduct field studies in which they apply theoretical knowledge and skill in order to study some event, analyze some aspect of the environment, or solve some practical problem.
- Exploratory experience. Learners are exposed to interesting sites and encouraged to explore the possibilities of the materials at hand.
- Analytical experience. Learners study field sites systematically, often applying theory to solve problems in practical situations.
- Productive mode. Learners generate products, activities, and services, either assigned or of their own devising.
- Generative experience. Learners build, create, compose, organize, or otherwise generate products in appropriate settings.
- Challenge experience. Learners are challenged to pursue goals of productivity and accomplishment.
- Developmental mode. Learners pursue excellence in a particular field by designing and implementing long-term programs of study, activity, and practice.
- Competence experience. Learners focus on a particular field, practice the skills involved, become absorbed in the activity, and achieve recognized competence.
- Mastery experience. Learners go beyond competence, developing commitment to a set of high personal standards of excellence.
- Psychological Mode. Learners learn to understand themselves and their relationships with others. They accomplish the tasks presented by their stage of development toward maturity and make contributions to the lives of others.
- Personal growth experience. Learners gain understanding of themselves as unique individuals and learn to direct their own activities effectively and responsibly.
- Social growth experience. Learners become more socially competent with people of all ages and act in more socially responsible ways, using their accomplishments in service to the community.
According to Gibbons' (1990) hierarchy of experiences, as the degree of experience increases, the learner takes on more responsibility for learning. At an introductory level, an experience at the lower end of the scale may be quite appropriate. On the other hand, if a unit builds on previous knowledge gains and is designed for highly motivated and competent learners, experiences should be at the higher end of the scale.
Gibbons (1990) cautions curriculum designers to view his hierarchy in relative terms rather than absolutes. In the real world, learning does not take place at just one level of experience. Rather, it functions as a range of experiences that reflect the interests and expertise of the learners. The same is true for an instructional unit. If it is to be truly experiential, it should present a range of activities that reflect the level at which the content is addressed, the interests and abilities of the learners, and the environment in which the learning will take place.
Elements of Experience. Gibbons (1990) defines the elements of experience as "the things that make the experience happen," including the nature of the activities selected, the skills to be applied through the activities, and the way in which the activities are facilitated...Gibbons illustrates how higher levels of experience require a more sustained number of defining elements (activities and skills).
The stages of Mastery and Competence mark degrees of expertise in the application of a selected set of skills through a sustained and facilitated pattern of experience. Learning to function as an expert has traditionally been accomplished through apprenticeship. In such a system, the beginner, faced with clearly defined content that comprises a craft or trade, is guided through a clearly defined set of skill-building activities leading from apprenticeship to journeyman to mastery. The lower level Exploratory stage may call for nothing more than, for example, a career exploration day for ninth grade students.
Gibbons, M., & Hopkins, D. (1980). How experiential is your experience-based program? The Journal of Experiential Education, 3(1).
Gibbons, M. & Hopkins, D. (1986). How experiential is your experience-based program? In R. Kraft & M. Sakofs (Eds.), The theory of experiential education (pp. 135-140). Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education.
Horton, R., & Hutchinson, S. (1997). Nurturing scientific literacy among youth through experientially based curriculum materials. National Network for Science & Technology, USA.