Experiential Educator Feature
What does experiential learning mean to you?
Experiential learning, whether in the classroom or out in the field, allows our students the opportunity to apply the concepts and ideas they have learned onto a real-world situation and challenge. It helps learning come alive for our students by allowing them to put thinking into doing.
Why is experiential learning a priority for you?
At Massachusetts Maritime Academy, we have something called a Learn-Do-Learn philosophy that embraces and encourages experiential learning. Traditionally, this has involved going to sea between academic semesters, but it also includes international, experiential, cooperative, and internship opportunities. For me, having worked a lot with this generation of students, it seems to be a preferred mode of learning. As a result, I am seeking more and more experiential learning opportunities within all of my courses and programs to enhance learning and engagement.
What skills do your students use when engaged in experiential learning?
For my recent course, I could give a laundry list of skills – listening, questioning, disciplinary thinking, analytics, communication, and so on, but I think one of the most useful skills they hone is reflective thinking. The experience provides students a way to integrate and apply what they have previously learned, but then… through reflection, they are able to make sense of that experience in the context of their knowledge, learning, personal and professional development.
What advice do you have for faculty and institutions considering experiential learning?
Jump in and give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. Find a colleague or two who have worked in the area and share your ideas. Then, try it out with the students and see how it works.