Experiential Learning @ UA

Many courses and co-curricular (not-for-credit) activities at UA include experiential learning opportunities (ELOs). At UA, an (ELO) is an in-depth experience related to one’s academic program of study (i.e., practicum, internship, co-op, clinical, field-work, research apprenticeship, student teaching, public art exhibition or arts performance, etc.) that engages students in the application of classroom learning to real-world problem solving under the supervision of an experienced practitioner, with structured opportunities for learning from that experience.

In an ELO, students:

  • Apply knowledge and skills in addressing authentic, complex problems within diverse contexts relevant to their lives and future careers
  • Take risks in proposing and implementing solutions to “real-world” problems relevant to their lives and future careers
  • Purposefully reflect on the development of their problem-solving skills
  • Have opportunities to share what they’ve learned through their ELO

The continued growth and development of high quality experiential learning opportunities is supported by the Learning in Action Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is what happens within the context of the broader category of experiential education. Rather than being oriented around a single definition, experiential education is a philosophy that informs methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop each learner’s capacity to contribute to their communities (adapted from The Association for Experiential Education: www.aee.org).

More About Learning in Action

Learning in Action is a five-year plan (2015-2020) to support undergraduates’ problem solving skills through high quality experiential learning opportunities (ELOs). Stevens and Richards’ (1992) description of experiential learning is most closely aligned with the approach used in Learning in Action:

“…a process wherein students are engaged in an experience with real consequences, rather than learning about others’ experiences, and they reflect on their experiences to develop “new skills, new attitudes, and new theories or ways of thinking” (p. 2).

Each year, students in all colleges will have increased access to ELOs that meet best practice standards. In support of this goal, Learning in Action assists faculty and staff in:

  • designing and implementing high quality ELOs,
  • creating distinctive curricular and co-curricular teaching/learning, and
  • integrating student involvement in planning and delivering ELOs.

For further details about Learning in Action, explore the links below.