There is convincing proof of the effectiveness and retention of hands-on learning in real-life circumstances. Hands-on learning is retained by generations of those who have farmed and used and repaired their equipment, or those who were taught mechanical skills by helping adults with mechanical repairs or replacements. Many people have also learned to bake or cook from participating in the preparation of meals with older members of their families.

Hands-on Learning Leads to Better Retention

In the classroom, significant retention of learning occurs if the instruction imitates a real-life situation that provides hands-on activities. One study has demonstrated that when students are actively engaged in the learning process, their retention rate is higher than if they are presented the information through lecture. Other studies have concluded that when students listen to information presented as a lecture, they retain 20% of the information or 30% if there is a demonstration involved. But, when students are allowed to actively participate in the learning process, retention can increase by as much as 75%.

One reason for this increase in retention is the stimulation generated in the student who is actively involved in the learning process. With the opportunity to practice what is being taught, students’ interest increases, causing them to become eager to learn something that personally involves them.

Hands-On Learning Enhances Critical Thinking Skills

Because students are actively engaged when involved with hands-on learning exercises, they must make decisions themselves. Consequently, they feel empowered in the learning process, and they do not have to rely upon paying attention and retaining just what they hear. Instead, they can focus on generating their ideas, a practice that will serve them in the workplace.

Hands-on learning helps students develop critical thinking skills that will provide them more confidence in their abilities to solve problems or create new ways of doing something or developing concepts or ideas. These thinking skills will aid them in learning fundamental concepts pertaining to their studies. Such skills are also necessary for building upon established ideas.

Hands-On Learning Benefits Those with Different Learning Styles

Importantly, hands-on learning is beneficial to different learning styles. As an instructional tool, lecture benefits mainly the auditory learner and the visual learner if the instructor uses charts and demonstrations. But, the tactile or kinesthetic learner needs active involvement through hands-on exercises or activities to retain what is taught.