Experimental Learning Theory Guiding Research

Experimental learning theory as a Lens in a Research Study

Experimental Learning theory was developed by C Rogers and ‘refers to applied knowledge’ in contrast to cognitive learning. Using the experimental learning theory as a lens for an art education research project would provide many guidelines.

The first would be in defining constructs of the study, for example art education as a construct in a study. With Experimental Learning Theory as a lens, the focus in defining art education would be on applied knowledge or experimental learning instead of other forms of learning. Using Experimental Learning Theory as a guide for the study would also imply that experimental learning is superior to cognitive learning.

During the analysis portion of the study, Experimental Learning Theory would guide determination of success of learning and educating. Successful learning or effectiveness of an art education program would be determined by the components of Experimental Learning, in which:

1) the student participates completely in the learning process and has control over its nature and direction, (2) it is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems, and (3) self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success. (“TIP: Theories.”)

 Successful educating can also be defined with the Experimental Learning Theory. Experimental Learning Theory considers the educator as a facilitator and successful facilitating includes:

(1) setting a positive climate for learning, (2) clarifying the purposes of the learner(s), (3) organizing and making available learning resources, (4) balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning, and (5) sharing feelings and thoughts with learners but not dominating.  (“TIP: Theories.”)

In addition the theory suggests a power relationship that can guide the study. The theory states that the facilitator should not be dominating and suggests a more equal interaction between facilitator and learner. This idea can be applied to data collection of a study in which the researcher is not dominating but participates in a more equal power relationship with the subjects of the study.

Another important facet of Experimental Learning Theory that would guide a study is the idea that ‘all human beings have a natural propensity to learn’ which seems to cross cultural boundaries. This idea suggests a commonality in the research no matter what location is being studied.

In interpreting data the researcher would also be focused in on the internal drive of the subjects because experimental learning emphasizes the internal aspects of learning. Threat to self may decrease the ‘natural propensity to learn’ which would guide the researcher in how he or she interprets the data – is there a threat of self to the subjects of the study and how has this impacted data (“TIP: Theories.”)

Furthermore, because the theory is based on applied learning (learning with a purpose), the study may also be looked at in terms of applied learning. Instead of performing a study to produce knowledge for knowledge sake, it would seem to make sense that the study itself would be applied to current situations and have a significant purpose.


“TIP: Theories.” Theory Into Practice (TIP). Web. 27 Sept. 2010. <http://tip.psychology.org/rogers.html&gt;.

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Concept Map

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Problem Statement Rough Draft

The purpose of this study is to understand an outdoor k12 school art education program led by an environmental artist through a case study during the time of the projects implementation in order to investigate the successes and failures of the project and provide insights for the implementation of similiar projects. The importance of the study is heightened with the current decreasing connection children have with the natural environment.

*note – a specific project will be inserted after further preliminary research

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Environment and Art Education- Specific Topics

The intersection and relationship between the natural environment and art education is broad. More specific topics or interests that fall within this ‘theme’ that I have thought about and would like to pursue further include:

art education and the outdoor classroom

learning of making art through experience ( exploration of outdoors instead of just images and explanations inside the classroom)

the influence of the environment on effective learning

site specific art education

education and appreciation of the environment and natural resources through art education

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What is Research?

To me research is an investigation and exploration. Either to expand on a previous idea or combine various information to form a new idea, research helps us to better understand our world. Many ways are used to collect data and information for research which helps broaden our understandings. Research can be done through experimentation, observation, interviews, and many other ways I have yet to learn about.

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My Goal for the semester is to add at least 3 references to each classmate’s refworks folder. I also will aim to add at least 1 reference to my own topic folder on refworks. My Refworks can be viewed at: http://www.refworks.com/RWShibboleth/mainframe.asp?tsmp=1283174569430

Note Folder Name for Aed 502 is Aed 502 – Environment and Art Ed

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Topic of Passion

As a first year graduate student in the MED Art Ed program at Penn State, I declare myself an emerging researcher. I envision that the environment and how it interacts with art education will be a topic of passion as I work through the graduate program. A growing concern that I have, especially after studying Landscape Architecture, is the declining relationship we (especially youth) have with the environment. Though I appreciate all the benefits of advancing technology, I have also become aware of the negative side-effects. Growing up I remember exploring the creek, creatures, and woods down the street from my house, speeding through my homework so I could play outside. My interest in gardening started early when I would help my dad with his garden in elementary school. I loved being outside and feel a special connection to nature still. Children today, captivated by technology-video games, computers, television – seem to have little contact with the outdoors. I fear that the connection to the environment is declining; an innate connection that has existed since the beginning of man and often inexplicable. Nature has an unusual ability to affect behaivor and well-being. Through my future research, I hope to foster childrens relationship with the environment. I am curious about the effect nature has on learning and classroom behaivor, and how the art classroom can help take care of our environment or raise awareness about its vulnerability (for example exploring recycled art materials). I am also interested in children’s ability to learn art skills inside the classroom verses in exploration outdoors experiencing objects of artwork first hand. A broad topic of my research interest, therefore, would be the environment and learning in art education.

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