A Covenantal Relationship Approach to Experiential Learning

J. Duane Hoover, Robert C. Giambatista, Lori Tribble



Long-term learning, especially learning that involves behavioral skill sets, requires both the acquisition and retention of whole person learning skill sets. The processing of whole person behavioral skill sets is most readily accomplished in experiential learning settings. For long-term learning to occur, an experientially inclined educator needs to have an educational agency model that inspires students to carry forward their learning program outcomes on multiple whole person learning fronts and over a period of time that is meaningful to the student’s goal(s). This paper addresses some of the tensions attendant to such “inspired learning” processes, taking the position that the forging of covenantal learning agreements is superior to reliance on contractual agreements. Contractual educational relationships, sourced in institutional frameworks, end when time relevant performance parameters are met (or not met). Most often, these performance parameters are sourced and defined by institutional forces rather than student learning outcomes. In contrast, covenantal agreements, based on relationship dynamics and interpersonal processes in the learning environment, are enhanced by and last beyond the instructor-student relationship. Experiential learning is enhanced when covenantal learning relationships, both with the instructor and with self, are made explicit. 

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