Appreciating Large Classes: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Foster a Hospitable Learning Space for Experiential Learning

Mai P. Trinh, Chantal van Esch, Hector A. Martinez, Tracey Messer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Experiential learning has been documented as an effective method for student learning, yet its use in large-enrollment classes remains limited. Kolb’s experiential learning theory emphasizes that experiential learning requires a hospitable learning space (HLS) that is conducive to learning. In this article, we reframe the challenges to experiential learning in large classes as a failure to create and maintain an HLS, and we propose Appreciative inquiry as one solution to this problem. Appreciative inquiry is an organizational development methodology that practitioners have successfully used to engage large groups to leverage their strengths and resources. First, we describe the HLS as an overarching theoretical framework to address the lack of engagement when conducting experiential learning in large classes. Second, we use the principles of Appreciative inquiry to provide actionable suggestions to instructors facing these challenges. Finally, through the use of appreciative inquiry, we argue that some characteristics of large classes can instead be viewed in an appreciative way as available resources to generate an engaging experiential learning process for students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-819
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Management Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • appreciative inquiry
  • co-creation of knowledge
  • experiential learning
  • hospitable learning space
  • large classes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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