Experiential assessment: an examination and development of assessment in experiential learning environments

Experiential learning (EL) is the process in which a learner’s experience is transformed into knowledge, a change in behavior, or personal growth. EL provides learners with an opportunity to build self-efficacy and actively engage in their learning environment, through the direct application of knowledge they have acquired. In agricultural education, students learn about agriculture, food, and natural resources, through classroom and laboratory instruction, leadership development, and EL. In every learning environment, it is vital to assess learner understanding relative to the material presented. In EL environments there is often a misalignment between the methods of instruction and the methods of assessment, which can render a misrepresentation of learner skill acquisition. This problem often results from the implementation of traditional assessment methods alone. Educators can address this issue by utilizing diverse modes of assessment, and especially by integrating formative assessments into their approach. The principals of EL and authentic assessment methods in EL environments are essential to agricultural educators. It was the intention of this project to examine the foundations of EL and its application in an agricultural learning environment. The purpose of this project was to develop authentic formative assessment methods appropriate for EL-based courses.