Students are more likely to achieve deeper learning of course material if they are afforded opportunities to apply what they learn to a concrete experience. Learn more about the benefits of experiential education. Further, experiential Education is part of York University's Academic Plan, as well as the Faculty of Health's Academic Plan.
York's Common Language for EE document states that beyond active learning strategies, EE engages students in structured reflection about their experience. This is to say, in addition to engaging in the Concrete Experience students must also move through the other stages of Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle: Reflective Observation (e.g. reflect on the experience), Abstract Conceptualization (e.g. connect to course themes), and Active Experimentation (e.g. plan for future action).
It is important to begin to identify and plan for EE well in advance of your course start date. Depending on whether you will teach in the fall, winter or summer, it is recommended that you begin to identify the type of EE you plan to include by May, September, and January respectively.
It is helpful to begin with the following:
1. Identify the learning outcomes you hope to help students achieve through the EE strategy and activities.
2. Determine the type of EE you would like to include in your course by considering: whether and how community partners might be involved; the location; duration, and frequency of activities.
The EE Coordinator can help you to answer these questions, and support the planning and implementation of the EE strategy best suited for your course.
Reflection is an exercise where students can critically examine a concrete experience. Through this examination, the students confront and challenge their assumptions, beliefs, and thought patterns and connect their experiences to the theories covered in the course. One model to conceptualize this is the “What? So What? Now What?” framework. As students go through an experience, they are first encouraged to define that experience (“What?”). They are then challenged to illustrate the significance of the activity with respect to course material, personal experiences, or professional practice (“So What?”). Finally, based on the significance of the activity, they must plan next steps (“Now What?”). These three questions form a cycle that can facilitate ongoing reflection. Reflection does not have to occur only after an experience; rather it is something that students can also engage in before and during an experience. Learn more about the role of reflection and find examples of reflection activities and assignments.
Assessment can vary depending on the type of EE, and not all aspects of an EE activity need to be evaluated. You may choose to: assign grades pass/fail grades for completing an activity, evaluate reflection activities or assignments (e.g. journals, reflection papers), evaluate what the student produces for the community partner (e.g. report, recommendations), incorporate peer assessment, engage community partners in the assessment, or use a combination of the above. You can find resources related to assessment in the resources tab. Contact the Teaching Commons for additional support around evaluation and assessment.
If you are already engaging your students in EE, you may consider some ways of enhancing the activities. This does not have to mean doing “more” EE, but it can mean improving what you are already doing, or considering a different type of EE from the continuum of EE strategies. For example, you can incorporate new or different reflection activities and assignments, or you can consider opportunities to work with a community partner. The EE Coordinator can help you to brainstorm ways of enhancing EE in your course.
Not necessarily: the experience can take place within the classroom or outside the classroom through observation, reflection and practical applications. In-classroom examples include: case studies, guest speakers, videos and films, etc. Outside the classroom examples include: field trips, site visit, attending a community event. All these experiences are referred to as classroom-focused activities in York's Common Language for EE because they are designed specifically around helping students achieve the learning outcomes. By contrast, community-focused EE activities must also meet community-identified needs.
Community-focused EE does not have to take place in the community, but it must involve interaction with community members and/or organizations. For example, service learning can take place in the community (e.g. students mentor kids at a local school) while community-based learning can take place in the classroom (e.g. partners present a problem or question for students to address). If the location of the EE activity is a barrier to students' or community partners’ participation, you may consider providing opportunities for students to work remotely, and/or work on-site for only part of the time, or inviting the partner into the classroom instead (in-person or via technology).
All three are types of work-focused EE, which means that they all provide students with the opportunity to develop competencies and skills and augment the theories/concepts learned in their degree programs by getting hands-on work experience within organizational environments. An internship is generally a paid, full-time work experience. A co-op involves students alternating between paid, full-time work experience and academic terms. Finally, a placement is generally an unpaid, for-credit experience that is a course or program requirement. Currently, only placements are offered in the Faculty of Health.