ThinkAchieve: Connecting the Classroom and the Community
Faculty and Staff Development
Check out some Faculty Perspectives on Experiential Learning:
While I have always been interested in experiential learning and used these tools in my classes, going through the designation process exposed me to how other faculty members design their courses using these tools. This enabled me to reflect further on the role of reflection in an experiential learning course, specifically on the varied roles for oral and written reflection in an experiential learning class. The committee reviewing the application for designation pushed me to consider how the structure of my assignments mapped on to the goals I was trying to set. Not only did this have an impact on my course design in terms of the parameters of assignments, it also importantly shifted the tenor of my syllabus and the way I frame these assignments in class, where I am much more thoughtful about explaining to students why particular activities are chosen, which has resulted in more effective outcomes in their reflection.
-Dr. Jessica Aucther,UC Foundation Assistant Professor of Political Science
When I submitted an application for ENGR (now ENME) 1850 to become an experiential learning (EL) course, I thought that I had appropriate opportunities for the students to reflect on their learning in the class. The course was approved as an EL course but I was told I had to add formal reflections to the course - pre and post reflections were suggested. I reluctantly added the reflections as quizzes using UTC Learn, asking 2 or 3 questions per reflection - pre, during, and post. I was reluctant to add the reflections because they are additional work for the students and I truly believed the students would not take them seriously. I was surprised to learn that the students took the time to honestly think about their experiences on the projects and responded with sincerity to the questions. These reflections help me understand what the students are experiencing, not just learning, as they work through the customer sponsored project. They discuss their struggles. They discussed their surprises. They discussed what they learned. They discussed what excited them. They discussed what did not excite them. Now I include other opportunities for reflection as extra credit in the course. I find that the reflections provide the students a quiet moment to truly consider what they are experiencing.
-Dr. Cecelia Wigal, P.E., UC Foundation Professor of Mechanical Engineering
After incorporating experiential learning into my classes, I quickly became a full-fledged covert to the power of experiential learning. I truly believe in its ability to radically improve how students learn. My most ambitious attempt at experiential learning has been creating the Student Managed Investment Learning Experience (SMILE) Fund. The SMILE Fund is a REAL $600,000 equity mutual fund managed entirely by UTC students for their client, the UC Foundation. It has been a pleasure to see the students financially succeed and for the fund to start making REAL dividends. However, I actually give more value to the indirect dividends the fund is paying. The SMILE Fund has helped my students fall in love with their craft, grow into confident and battle-tested leaders, earn amazing internships and careers, and form lifelong relationships with their peers, faculty, and local professionals. Finally, although I created the SMILE Fund, it is more than fair to say that the SMILE Fund has also created me – at least me as the type of professor I want to be. The SMILE Fund and experiential learning have taught me to rethink what it means to be a professor, especially in terms of forming relationships. I no longer see my students as temporary pupils for a particular semester, but as colleagues and friends for the rest of our lives. Experiential learning can be both time-consuming and complicated, but it also highly rewarding and often magical. When done right, experiential learning is a bonding experience that transforms both the students and the professor.
-Dr. Hunter Holzhauer, UC Foundation Assistant Professor of FinanceFinance & Economics
During my undergraduate degree, I took a political science course where we were required to conduct an ethics interview with someone in our profession. I chose an engineering professional I was acquainted with through my family, and was admittedly shocked by how candid he was about ethical issues he’d encountered during his career and how he responded to those. I had up until that point always thought that ethics in engineering was sort of “cut and dry” or “black and white”, but that conversation really changed my viewpoint. It’s my hope that through pre-reflection and conversations with my students in class about ethics and environmental issues prior to their job shadowing assignment, I’m able to replicate that type of experience for them. I think it can be very valuable if structured properly, and without going through the designation process and getting committee feedback, I’m not sure I would’ve truly understood how to accomplish that goal in this introductory class.
-Dr. Brad Harris, Assistant ProfessorCivil and Chemical Engineering