phenomenon [fi-nom-uh-non, -nuh n]
a fact, occurrence, or circumstance observed
Partnering Classrooms Worldwide!
Contact us if you would like to join the
Knowledge Building International Project:
Tel: +1 (305) 351-6815
Supporting the most effective mechanisms for experiential learning
Applying knowledge and conceptual understanding to real-world problems or situations
In a knowledge-building classroom, students approach problems from an interdisciplinary perspective
with the teacher facilitating their inquiries. Whether a broad subject like water and its applications to a
more narrow subject like healthy living in a large urban area, students engage in collaborative learning
and an exchange of ideas toward solving problems through deep learning and understanding the
subject matter's place in their own lives. This experiential learning process, also referred to as
Phenomenon or Project-Based Learning, serves as the basis for developing skills through practice
and reflection while supporting the construction of new understandings when placed in novel situations.
By engaging in guided, authentic, real-world learning, students deepen their knowledge through a
a progression of knowledge-building principles and methodologies. Teachers are trained as facilitators
of knowledge rather than dispensers of pre-determined content, and take an interdisciplinary approach
to teaching. Consider the example of studying water as a common topic:
In small group settings, students exchange ideas regarding the problems they study and formulate
theories on innovative solutions, guided by the teacher for discourse around the issues. Students
exchange notes in the Knowledge Forum, an electronic workspace accessible through the Internet
for a limitless number of student participation at any time, and they create multi-media presentations
to demonstrate how they have gained mastery of the subject being explored.
This experiential learning teaches students the competencies they need for real-world success. They
gain mastery in the subject matter they are studying, and skills needed for 21st Century education -
critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity in line with those advocated by international
organizations such as UNESCO and OECD for re-imagining education for what is taught and how it is
taught. The 21st Century skills acquired during the knowledge-building process will carry them through
the education continuum and into the workforce. By accessing authoritative resources that complement
their textbooks, which are usually outdated, they enhance the content needed for the particular course
of study, whether it be biology, history, civics, geography or really any topic they are studying in school.
They watch video presentations through You Tube and Vimeo to learn from the experts. They go on
field trips to see the subject matter they are studying in action. And they form important relationships
with their peers in other cities and countries throughout the world when their classrooms and teachers
are partnered through the Knowlege Building in Action Community of Practice.
This process includes the integration of:
knowledge—the concepts, facts, and information acquired through formal learning and past experience;
activity—the application of knowledge to a “real world” setting; and
reflection—the analysis and synthesis of knowledge and activity to create new knowledge
Students apply the scientific method and use scaffolding to progress through the learning experience. When
students are engaged in these types of inquiry of proposing theories, defending those theories and reworking
the theory with input from their classrooms and the research they are doing, they see the relevance of what
they are studying to their own lives. They have increased motivation to learn, practice and give feedback.
Experiential learning creates self-directed learners. When confronted with unfamiliar situations and tasks in
a real-world context, students need to figure out what they know - and what they do not know and how to
learn it. This requires a reflection on prior knowledge, deepened through reflection. They can then transfer
their previous learning to new contexts, master new concepts, principles and skills, and be able to articulate
how they developed this mastery. Ultimately, these skills create students who become self-directed, life-long
learners, being able to apply what they learn to their own lives.
During the learning process, teachers become facilitators of inquiry rather than dispensers of pre-determined
content. This means that they are not standing in front of the class but rather circulate amongst the small group
learning clusters in the classroom so they can monitor the learning taking place and can answer questions
students may have about the subject matter they are studying. Teachers can pose problems, set boundaries,
provide suitable resource, ensure physical and emotional safety, and facilitate the learning process. They are
able to recognize and encourage spontaneous opportunities for learning, engagement with challenging situations,
experimentation and discovery of solutions and help their students notice the connections between one context
and another as well as between theory and the experience.
Knowledge Building in Action can facilitate any school wanting to implement experiential learning in their
K-12 classrooms. This includes training on the Knowledge Forum and partnering teachers in different cities.
Contact us in the United States at +1 (305) 351-6815, Email: info@KBinAction.com.