Experiential Learning Essay Template

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Review this check list in prior to submitting your experiential learning essay. If you have completed all of the items listed below, you are ready to submit your essay. Keep in mind, your evaluator may still request additional material, however, the list below will guide in your essay submission preparations. Not adhering to these guidelines will cause a delay in processing.

** Review each of the items below and check if you have completed each of them:

  1. I have selected an approved essay topic from the essay course descriptions page. http://www.phoenix.edu/admissions/prior_learning_assessment/experiential-essays/essay-topics.html

  1. Some essays have specific experience requirements. I have checked the essay description and I meet all of the experience requirements listed.

  1. I have written and included a 1,500 to 2,100 word autobiography; autobiography is only required with first Experiential Learning Essay, subsequent essays do not require additional autobiographies.

  1. I have written an experiential essay eligible for 1 credit with a 1,000 to 2,000 word count.

  1. My essay is written in first person (1st) without references.

  1. I have written to all four (4) areas of Kolb’s model of learning.

  1. I have addressed all of the required subtopics in each of the four areas of Kolb’s model of learning.

  1. I have included supporting documentation that validates my personal/professional experience with the essay course description/topic.

  1. My essay is based on personal, life learning experiences, not based on research, history, or another individual’s learning experiences.

Kolb’s Model

Below is a description of Kolb’s Model. All experiential essays must be written following Kolb’s Model. Below

you will find the four sections of Kolb’s Model, a brief description of the section, and a sample of how that
section should be addressed. The samples are pulled from the sample essay found on the PLA website, and it is recommended that you review the sample essay for a more complete example of how to write an experiential essay in Kolb’s Model. The words on this page do not count toward the essay length requirement.

1. Description of Concrete Experience

Description: Concrete experience represents your personal participation with the people, places, activities, and events of an experience. You should describe your involvement relative to the experience, demonstrating the opportunity for learning.

Sample: My career in public relations started off as a staff assistant in the Public Information Office of a community college system. After two years of on-the-job training, I was promoted to the position of community relations officer.

2. Reflections

Description: Reflections represent your thinking and processing relative to the experience. You should demonstrate your learning by describing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes developed through the reflective process.

Sample: I have observed that some organizations are very good at garnering free publicity. They appear at local events and frequently appear as experts in television and newspaper interviews.

3. Generalizations/Principles/Theories

Description: Generalizations, principles, and theories are constructs that organize and guide academic learning. A typical college course is built around several such generalizations, principles, and/or theories.

In this stage, you identify and describe the generalizations, principles, and/or theories to demonstrate your learning outcomes. These learning outcomes result from analyzing and reflecting on your experience. The generalizations, principles, and/or theories should be comparable to those addressed in typical college courses and should match the course description selected.

Sample: Whether working with large or small one-owner organizations, it makes no difference in establishing rules, guidelines, or policies regarding image and public relations. Developing a detailed plan of action makes it much easier to schedule and implement appropriate applicable strategies.

4. Testing and Application

Description: Testing and/or application represent situations in which the new learning can be used. You should describe how you did, or could in the future, test and/or apply what you learned.

Sample: A fun promotional idea that emerged as a by-product profit center for the bookstore was t-shirts.
We printed t-shirts with the bookstore logo on the back with advertisements for the bookstore on the front.



Individual Record Number:

Approved Essay Title:

Enter your name, the date, your IRN, and the approved essay title of the essay topic you have chosen from the
PLA website. When you are ready to begin writing the essay, type out the essay subtopics as they appear in the essay course description, and follow the four steps of Kolb’s model.

Describe the experiences that taught you about the subtopic, reflect on that experience, explain the principles learned, and then explain how those principles were tested and applied. You are then ready to move on to the next subtopic. Follow this process until you meet the length requirement, and have addressed all required subtopics. *Word count begins at the first subtopic.

Subtopic (1):

Description of Concrete Experience:


Generalizations, Principles and Theories:

Testing and Application:

Subtopic (2):

Description of Concrete Experience:


Generalizations, Principles and Theories:

Testing and Application:

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