Experiential Educator Feature
What does experiential learning mean to you?
Applying knowledge outside of the classroom, reflecting upon the results, verifying perspective with others, making adjustments, and then applying the resultant expanded knowledge base in the same or a similar situation.
Why is experiential learning a priority for you?
Students are much more invested in the course, its assigned content, and required assignments when they can see how the knowledge can be applied in out-of-class settings and that it often has transferable use in other areas of their academic and personal lives.
Can you give us an example of a successful experiential learning engagement that you've coordinated/delivered?
Students had to create a diversity and inclusion training workshop and manual based on the course content in my “Leading Diversity in the Workplace” class and on the outside research that they had conducted for the class. Students then had to effectively deliver this training to their classmates and incorporate an anonymous feedback survey to help them measure the effectiveness of their workshop training and its accompanying manual. Students worked together in teams producing multiple drafts and receiving instructor feedback on each draft. They also spent a lot of time reflecting on how their information would be received by others and what would make it better for multiple constituencies in the audience. By the time students completed this assignment, they were able to list a number of 21st century competencies on their resume, including: designing, creating, and delivering a diversity and inclusion workshop and manual; public speaking; teamwork; research and development to improve workplace culture; cultural competency training; inclusion training; and strong communication skills.
Why do you use experiential learning?
In my twenty-five years of teaching, I have found it to be the best tool for engaging students and intrinsically motivating them to take ownership of their learning.
How do your students benefit from experiential learning?
Students leave my courses with the skills employers and graduate schools desire. They are often chosen for leadership positions upon hiring or shortly thereafter and are chosen for competitive paid internships. Those who attend graduate schools are often offered full scholarships or equivalent positions where their tuition is free, and they are a salaried staff member supervising other employees. Experiential learning makes students highly employable!
What's the most challenging part of being an #ExperientialEducator? (coordinating/delivering an experiential learning curriculum to students)
Being constrained by resources and traditional thinking are the biggest challenge to being an experiential educator. So many in academia still do not trust learning that isn’t taking place in the classroom with traditional assessment measures and through traditional modes of learning. Resource factors in when the learning experience requires students to go off campus. Who will pay for their transportation, conference fee, admissions fee, lodging (if necessary)? What does it mean when the university sponsors an event that requires students to ask their professors to excuse them from missing class? Are there policies and procedures in place to seek prior approval for such events?
What skills do your students use when engaged in experiential learning?
My students use a range of 21st century competencies when engaged in experiential learning, such as: Global Awareness and Cross-Cultural Skills; Critical and Inventive Thinking; Communication, Collaboration and Information Skills; and Emotional Intelligence.
What advice do you have for faculty and institutions considering experiential learning?
Go for it! Students today love to move while they are learning and love being outside of the traditional classroom. They are more engaged with the world around them than we think and are quite passionate about designing the learning journey they want to travel instead of it being designed for them. Let them. Watch how they grow as they test out new ideas, reflect upon the results, verify their understanding and perspective with others, and then try again. They will amaze you if given the chance.