THE EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING ACTIVITY: BENEFITS AND DIFFICULTIES IN REAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

The experiential learning activity (ELA) type activities arise as a new approach to education. These techniques provide students with a cooperative-work skill that serves as a basis to facilitate higher levels of learning. The level of knowledge assimilation associated with this type of projects will depend on the students’ background. We developed an experiment using ELA in two different learning environments. We applied the same activity to two substantially different groups where project management concepts are relevant to analyze the different learning acquisition.

The first group were vocational training students. Specifically, first year students in Industrial Mechatronics. Within the remit of this particular module and the training cycle in general, students are expected to master aspects of meeting deadlines, resource management and compliance with established objectives.

For the second group, we relied on Executive MBA students. These students are all college-educated and hold or have held positions of responsibility in their companies.

The field of operations management is relatively broad, covering aspects from quality management and maintenance, project management, production management, management of the supply chain.

The main objective of the activity in both groups is to confront the student to the wide range of issues and situations related to successful project management. In particular, we want to strengthen the three basic dimensions of project management and analyze their interrelationships: time, resources / money, and performance. Through the activity we intend the students to be motivated towards learning and simulate as closely as possible a real situation. Results show that the proposed activity is suitable for application to different educational levels even though small adjustments must be made to achieve the learning objectives.