Experiential Education: A Path Towards Improving the Student Experience - page 5

Experiential education (EE) is apedagogical approach to facilitate learning through the
applicationof theory toa concreteexperienceand requires the students to reflect upon their
learning. EEprovides rich learningopportunitieswithin theclassroom, thecommunity, or
workplace, advancing the learningoutcomesof a courseor academicprogramwhile fosteringa
positive student experienceandstudent career development.
Experiential learning cancome inmany forms andcanoccur both inandoutside theclassroom.
AcrossOntariouniversity campuses, conversations areoccurringaroundhowto increase the
number of ELopportunities for students. Theseconversations arebeing stimulatedby
increasing calls for every student tobeguaranteedat least oneELopportunityduring their
academicprogram(thePremier’sHighlySkilledWorkforceExpert Panel, p. 27). Experiential
learning contributes tostudents’ career development bygiving studentsnetworking contacts,
opportunities to“tryon” apotential career path, developprofessional skills, andabroader
understanding the labourmarket and industriesof interest. Students canuse this experience
to reflect andplan their next career andacademic steps inan informedand intentionalmanner.
The instructional pedagogies associatedwithexperiential learning (EL) can takemultiple forms.
Traditionally, ELhasbeenequated toco-operativeeducation, aprogramwhichalternates
periodof academic studywithperiodsofworkexperience (CAFCE, 2017). However, co-op is
onlyonepossible formof EL. Asprogrammingexpands at theUniversity, our lexiconandvision
aroundEL anddifferent ELoptionsneeds togrow, includingaroundnon-credit activities that
have just asmuchpotential tobemeaningful ELopportunities as for-credit programs, suchas
on-campus student jobs, undergraduate research, andco-curricular programs.
The foundationof EL conceptualized inKolb’s (1984) integrated learning cycle (1984),which is
intentionallydesignedand facilitatedby the instructors and/or coordinator, tomeet specific
learningoutcomes associatedwithanacademicprogram. Effective learning is seenwhena
student has a concreteexperience followedbyobservationof and reflectionon that
experience, leading to the formationof abstract concepts andgeneralizations that areused to
test hypotheses in future situations, resulting innewexperiences. Asmost ELexperiences are
situatedoutside theclassroom, qualityELprograms areadministrativelyheavy to facilitate
student learning inhost sites and toperformduediligenceand riskmanagement toprotect the
student and institution.
Asoutlined in theUniversity’s strategicplan, theUniversityofWindsor (2010, p. 3) is
committed to thebetterment of society, anunwavering commitment toacademicexcellence,
and tohelpcommunitiesbevibrant andsustainable, includingbeing responsive to theneedsof
our constituents.
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