Using experiential learning in wildlife courses to improve retention, problem solving, and decision-making

Kelly F. Millenbah, Joshua J. Milispaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Experiential learning refers to contextually relevant knowledge acquired through "hands-on" problem solving, critical reflection, discussion, and decision-making. Experiential learning broadens, extends, and deepens the intellectual content of instruction by integrating theory and practice, increasing student motivation through the experience of applying knowledge, and encouraging students to develop their skills as independent scholars. In wildlife science there is growing recognition that wildlife professionals must retain basic theory and application of concepts while being capable of assimilating and critically processing information. In this paper we explore the role of experiential learning in helping students acquire these necessary skills and the mechanics of experiential learning. We describe the inherent benefits and limitations, lessons learned, assessment techniques, and recommendations for use. We also demonstrate how to incorporate experiential learning into a wildlife curriculum using a classroom concept from 2 Wildlife Techniques courses. Students responded favorably to experiential learning opportunities and rated these experiences highly. Although experiential learning might not be appropriate in all wildlife classes, if applied correctly it could improve retention, problem solving, and decision-making: skills necessary to succeed in wildlife management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-137
Number of pages11
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Experiential learning
  • Pedagogy
  • Problem solving
  • Teaching
  • Wildlife education
  • Wildlife techniques


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