“Experiential [learning] is a philosophy and methodology in which educators purposefully engage with students in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values” - Association for Experiential Education
Simply put, it is the process of learning by doing and reflecting on the experience.
Experiential learning first immerses learners in an experience and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking.
Experiential learning at UNT Dallas is two-fold: it serves to help students transition more gracefully from college to the work place setting by gaining marketable skills, real world experience, and industry networks; it also serves to improve the quality of learning by understanding how text book learning applies to the real world by increasing the likelihood of using the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and habits of mind acquired in their studies.
Read more about the effectiveness of experiential learning at the Association of American Colleges & Universities: The Power of Experiential Education
Types of Experiential Learning:
Credit bearing experiential learning - Students will take courses that are experiential learning focused or require some level of experiential learning, either field-based or through classroom participation.
Non-crediting bearing experiential learning - Students can participate in experiential learning opportunities offered through campus sponsored activities, the Urban SERCH Institute, and students organizations.
Field Based & In Class Applied Learning:
Field based experiences allow students to explore and apply content learned in the classroom in a specified field experience away from the classroom. Field work experiences bridge educational experiences with an outside community.
Internships - a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. It is a short-term work experience emphasizing hands-on learning. The internship gives meaning to everything the student has learned and makes practical sense of something known as theoretical.
Service Learning - a form of experiential learning that is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.
Practicum - a form of experiential learning that is often a required component of a course of study and place students in a supervised situation where they can develop competencies and apply previously studied theory and content. This allows students to design and develop a project in which they apply knowledge and develop skills. Student Teaching is a form of experiential learning in this capacity.
Community based project - a form of experiential learning as projects undertaken by departments and/or faculty and students in collaboration with community organizations that respond to community-identified needs and promote civic engagement. Community projects allow students to explore and apply content learned in the classroom in a specified field experience away from the classroom.
Active Research - a form of experiential learning for students to work on a detailed study of a subject in order to discover information or achieve a new understanding of it.
In Class Applied Learning
Applied learning as a pedagogical model that places students in experiences requiring them to integrate theories, ideas, and skills they have learned into new contexts, thereby extending their learning.
Capstone - a form of experiential learning for students within their final semester prior to graduation. The capstone course is an opportunity for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the goals for learning established by their educational institution and major department. The capstone course integrates learning from the courses in the major, with the courses from the rest of the academic program including CORE requirements. Capstone courses combine associated external experiences such as practicum, externships and internships with intellectual reflection & industry relevant problem solving. It requires the application of that learning to a project which serves as an instrument of evaluation.
Active Research - a form of experiential learning for students to work on a detailed study of a subject in order to discover information or achieve a new understanding of it. Case Studies and Laboratories are a form of experiential learning in this capacity.