International Career Services Counselor
Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience; more specifically defined as "learning through reflection on doing". When an individual can successfully recognize their process of putting theory and learned concepts into practice, experiential learning is taking place. A major benefit for faculty is the validation of course content from outside perspectives/employers, amplifying the meaning and outcomes of [your] lessons.
We believe that integrating experiential learning strategies into courses engages and benefits learners. Effective modeling can increase student comprehension and learning retention rates by providing relevant venues for students to showcase pragmatic education through collaboration with prospective employers.
Experiential Learning can be great for:
- Promoting the value of diversity and integrating people from different social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds to be ready for the world
- Re-acclimating mature, nontraditional students who have been long removed from the traditional classroom and need the motivation of contextual learning
- Providing experience to minority students (including international students) who have not yet acquired work experience from a job or internship
- Offering alternative learning methods to students who have difficulty learning within the formal classroom
- Keeping Kendall relevant to students by providing the necessary skills that result in a successful transition to their industry
- Helping faculty & Kendall to more closely interface with business to promote strategic partnerships and community development
Challenges for incorporating Experiential Learning:
- As a form of Active Learning, similar challenges include potential for reduced amount of time for lecture and more preparation time to implement successful activities
- Scheduling conflicts with employers/external parties for experiential activities
- Travel/cost logistics for off-site visits to industry locations
- Large class size may restrict use of some techniques, specifically with more personal interactions between students and employers
- Students may resist non-lecturing techniques out of unfamiliarity, but clear instructions in how to participate in less-traditional modes offer a potential solution
Field-Based learning involves transporting learners outside the classroom and into the environment where they plan to apply their education directly. In some instances, employers and perspectives can be brought into the classroom for additional layers of conversation and consideration. Some examples include:
Identify a business/location that operates in alignment with course content, and guide students through a tour of the location and conversations about how learning is put into practice with professionals/prospective employers.
Identify professionals/alumni who are working in the industry related to your course(s), and host a panel with Q&A about topics that have been discussed in class.
Involving employers in a more active capacity (i.e. mock interview, case study) provides an opportunity to enhance experiential learning for students in a more engaging manner.
Industry Immersion Project
To better understand the details that constitute a successful career in the hospitality industry, students identify a relevant location to their career aspirations, and spend 30 minutes assessing the space individually. Students will then submit a 2-3 page reflection on what impressed, concerned, and surprised them, and how they will use that information for internship/job searches moving forward.
Classroom-Based learning in an experiential capacity can take a multitude of forms. In any form, students have the opportunity to demonstrate a combination of critical thinking and articulation of their responses to course content, while providing a platform to highlight relevant accomplishments. Some examples include:
Students will demonstrate learning by uploading and organizing various artifacts (i.e. relevant research papers, presentations, images) to highlight competencies through ongoing performance and reflection.
Instructors will identify current, succinct, industry-related reading(s) for students to review. Students will then submit a 250-300 word reflection evaluating what population the reading most relates to and how it can enhance their approach to work by comparing and contrasting ideas from experience and class discussions. This practice can greatly enhance business writing skill sets for students.
Students present a comprehensive overview of major assignments and takeaways from a course in conjunction with a career plan to prompt a combination of critical and strategic thinking in the development of career goals
Seven ways to make the most of Experiential Learning
- Maintain a balance of experiential activity and content/theory
- Provide clear expectations for students
- Establish a safe space for students to process moments of self-discovery
- Highlight points of relevance for experiential activities for each student as an individual
- Use a major project or field experience to guide learning over the entire course
- Allow students to make mistakes and/or change direction midstream
- Consider form(s) of evaluation or assessment that are tied to reflection
Best Practices in Experiential Learning from The Leanring and Teaching Office at Ryerson University in Ontario does a great job defining experiential learning in context and provides practical strategies for implementation.