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Paths to EE

Experiential Education Strategies

What to expect:

The thing is, you’re probably doing experiential education in many of your courses already. Any time you interact with a guest speaker, engage in a role play, analyze a case study, go through a simulation or work in a laboratory, you are applying concepts and theories covered in the course to real life or simulated real-life experiences. That’s EE! And despite its name, course-focused EE can also occur outside of class as a one-off activity such as a field visit to a site that is of particular relevance to your course, an interview with a professional in your field, or participation in a community event that correlates to a topic covered in class. A central part of EE is thinking about your experience in a purposeful way. Your teacher will encourage you to reflect on your experience in light of the course content as well as your own ideas. Of course, what you experience will vary depending on the course you are taking.

What to expect:

Chances are you have volunteered your time before helping others… just like giving some of your time for a cause, community-focused EE is about civic engagement. In this kind of EE, you’ll have the opportunity to connect course material with experiences outside of the classroom and through interactions with partners in the community.

In community-focused EE, you’ll work with a community partner. You’ll hear from them what they need and work on a solution with them, whether you provide a direct service on site, take on a project that you can manage off-site, or engage in research that is meaningful to the community partner. A key component of EE is thinking about your interaction with the community in a purposeful way, so your teacher will encourage you to reflect on your experience and apply course content to the tasks you’ve been assigned to within the community organization.

What to expect:

For work-focused EE, think hands-on work experience specific to your discipline. You will either receive credit for your work or get paid, but not both. As in the other types of EE, the key for your learning is to apply the theories and concepts learned in your courses to the professional-like activities you engage in and reflect upon your actions.

For more details about each type of work-focused EE, please read the information below:

In a Placement, you will practice competencies and skills specific to a discipline in an authentic work environment and receive course credit for doing so. You will have an opportunity to apply the theories and concepts learned in academic course settings as you engage in professional-like activities and reflect upon your actions. Placements are also known as fieldwork or field placements (e.g. Social Work, Communication & Culture, Anthropology, Disaster and Emergency Management) or practica (e.g. Nursing or Education).

Internships provide the opportunity to apply the theories and concepts learned throughout your degree and develop competencies and skills through hands-on work experience related to your field of study. Internships are paid, full-time, supervised work experiences. As part of an internship, you will write a reflective work term report to demonstrate your learning, which is then reviewed and graded by a faculty supervisor.

Familiarize yourself with the Learning Agreement Form and Instruction Guide for when you start your internship, and the Work Term Report to be completed at the end of your internship.

Co-op programs are designed to integrate classroom learning with an authentic work experience related to your field of study in which you alternate periods of paid, full-time, supervised work experiences with your academic terms. A Co-Op can be either for credit or not-for credit, and is generally noted on the transcript and degree. As a Co-Op student, you are engaged in productive work rather than merely observing and your progress is monitored by the university while your performance is evaluated by the Co-Op employer. Co-operative student positions are most often 4 to 8 months in duration, with a commitment of 12-16 months in total over the course of your program, which tends to be organized in a trimester system to accommodate for its alternative stream.

Capturing the Experience