Experiential Educator Feature
What does experiential learning mean to you?
By creatively applying what they learn, students turn concepts into lasting knowledge. By implementing that knowledge in situated, real-world experiences, they turn knowledge into usable skills and deeper understanding. Employers know this process fuels a workforce that grows to meet future challenges.
Why is experiential learning a priority for you?
Classroom-based education does not adequately connect students to real-world knowledge. As an educator, I expect students to creatively apply the knowledge from lecture content and case studies. Until you “do” it, you don’t truly know it, and this is where experiential learning comes into play. There is no substitute for experiential learning because you learn through doing it, rather than solely learning before you do it.
How do your students benefit from experiential learning?
First, they realize that real-world problems rarely fit classroom-based models. Second, they gain awareness of how they gain confidence that they are up to the task. Finally, they begin to develop a professional network to support their career path.
What's the most challenging part of being an #ExperientialEducator? (coordinating/delivering an experiential learning curriculum to students)
Developing a resource base of accessible partners presents a considerable obstacle to overcome. It also takes considerable skill and experience to believe in your students’ abilities to deeply engage and learn without you micromanaging their experience. Finally, institutional acceptance of experiential learning that never follows a defined curriculum is a significant challenge educator consistently face. It is crucial to understand that the curriculum is created by the experience.
What skills do your students use when engaged in experiential learning?
Primarily, they use and develop interpersonal and organizational skills. Students must also reframe their theoretical and case-study knowledge to meet the demands of real-world business.
What advice do you have for faculty and institutions considering experiential learning?
The desire to embed experiential learning in the classroom environment is the first step. Educators cannot be “forced” to believe in creating meaningful experiences for students and their future. Given the educator has the desire, he or she must go beyond the traditional classroom procedure because every engagement is unique and not searchable in the instructor’s guide in the textbook. A combination of the instructor’s background and student insight is typically the best answer. The collection of the students is the biggest source of knowledge, so take advantage of that community through sharing, voting and collecting student feedback. Support your students and off-site partners as they figure out how to benefit each other. Again, the underlying idea is if you [as the educator] want to do it, you will. Once you do, it is important to consider forms of assessment for student performance. The result of experiential learning is not a test, grade, or even a necessarily a formal transcript – but rather it can be a compilation of excerpts of self and instructor evaluations, which actually show what the student did and learned. By self or peer-assessing, an educator can truly unleash the potential of students.