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Experiential learning

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is experiential learning?
  2. What is the experiential learning component?
  3. What are the benefits of the experiential learning component?
  4. What is reflection and why is it important?
  5. How can I reflect?
  6. What questions can I ask to guide the reflection process?
  7. What are students saying about experiential learning component?
  8. What departments were involved in the experiential learning component?
  9. How can I participate in the Pilot?
  10. Where can I go for more information on the experiential learning component?
  11. References


Answers to the Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is experiential learning?  

Experiential learning is any kind of learning through experience; simply put,‘learning by doing’.

Experiential learning diagram

Experiential learning occurs when individuals engage in some activity, reflect upon the activity critically, derive some useful insight from the analysis, and incorporate the result through a change in understanding and/or behaviour. (David A. Kolb, Experiential Learning: Experience as a Source of Learning and Development, 1984, 3-4).

2. What is the experiential learning component?  

The student employment programs offered by the Centre for Career Development (CCD) have been restructured to incorporate formal experiential learning. This means you will work with your employer at the beginning of the placement to identify specific skills that will be enhanced during the placement, based on the job description and your current skillset. From these discussions, you and your employer will complete a Learning and Reflection Agreement identifying an activity you will pursue throughout the placement to record the extent of your learning. At the end of the placement, you and your employer will revisit the Reflection Agreement to recognize your achievements. Overall, this will enable you to experience learning situations in a work environment that you can transfer to other work and life situations.

3. What are the benefits of the experiential learning component?  
Benefits to Students:
  • Develop skills and employment experience that helps ease the transition to the workplace upon graduation;
  • Learn or enhance soft skills required in today’s workplace;
  • Become highly trained in specific tasks;
  • Explore career goals to determine suitability for a profession;
  • Build self-confidence in professional abilities;
  • Enhance self-awareness of strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes, interests etc.;
  • Establish a network of professional contacts, mentors and references;
  • Gain awareness of skills that are transferable to the work force and graduate school;
  • Foster opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to the workforce;
  • Increase chances for employment upon graduation;
  • Develop competencies related to career goals.
Skills identified from working with the experiential learning component:

  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Language
  • Leadership
  • Task management
  • Organization
  • Research (basic)
  • Time management
  • Computer (general/programming/web)
  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal
  • Initiative
  • Editing
  • Drafting
  • Career development
  • Ability to take constructive criticism
  • Team work
  • Learned to be understanding
  • Cutting edge computer technology/software
  • Word processing
  • Data entry and compacting
  • Marketing
  • Work independently
  • Writing
Benefits to Employers/Community:
  • Develop graduates with soft skills;
  • Connect to students outside the classroom;
  • Shape graduates’ futures through mentoring relationships;
  • Engage students through practical application of theory;
  • Assist students in living learning;
  • Work with energetic and creative students who can help with projects and tasks;
  • Develop highly qualified individuals who are prepared for the real world;
  • Build cooperative partnerships with the university.

Benefits to the University:

  • Help students to develop skills that complement their learning;
  • Increase opportunities to collaborate with employing agencies;
  • Build a better community by supporting opportunities to develop competent and highly skilled graduates who are prepared for challenging and rewarding careers;
  • Help higher education achieve learning communities through co-operative partnerships.

4. What is reflection and why is it important?  

Reflection provides a structured opportunity for you to apply classroom theory in the workplace. By reflecting upon your work experience with your employer, you are challenged to assess the competencies and skills gained through the position so you are prepared to apply them in the real world.

You need to be aware of the skills you have learned so that you can articulate them and identify your strengths to potential employers. The more you are aware of your skills and abilities, the better prepared you will be for the world of work. According to the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE), 90% of employers are looking for individuals with soft skills. Consequently, the CCD partners with faculty and staff to facilitate opportunities for students like you to develop transferable skills. It is essential that you be actively involved in the learning process.

5. How can I reflect?  

Reflection is not meant to be long or difficult. The entire process can take less than 30 minutes at the beginning and 30 minutes at the end of placement. You and your employer may choose one of these reflective activities:

6. What questions can I ask to guide the reflection process?  
  • What happened in the employment experience?
  • What did you do?
  • What were your likes and dislikes?
  • What skills did you bring to the position?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What were your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What did the experience mean to you?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • Why did you choose the position?
  • So what does it mean? Why did we do it?
  • What have you learned about yourself? about the workplace?
  • How did the experience relate to your studies? to your career objectives?
  • What would have made this a better placement?
  • What did not work for you?
  • What surprises did you encounter?
  • What will I do differently?
  • Now what do I do?
  • What behaviours will change as a result of the experience?
  • How will you incorporate this experience into your academics? Into your relationships?

7. What are students saying about the experiential learning component?  
  • “prepares me for the working world”;
  • “greater insight into the skills I have developed but was not aware of which will be beneficial for writing my résumé”;
  • “see what I have accomplished”;
  • “recognize skills” that will be transferred to the workforce;
  • during a recent interview, I was able to identify “skills”;
  • able to “identify skills on a résumé”;
  • résumé development;
  • self-awareness;
  • “I was able to pinpoint what exact skills I had developed”;
  • “without it I would have easily overlooked some of the things I have learned”;
  • “the one-on-one experience with instructors and students”;
  • “recognize what I have gained from my experience at MUCEP”.

8. What departments were involved in the Experiential Learning Pilot Program?  
  • Clubs & Societies
  • Distance Education & Learning Technologies
  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Business
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Science
  • Human Kinetics & Recreation
  • Human Resources
  • Marine Institute
  • MUN Student Union
  • Office of the Registrar
  • School of Music
  • Student Affairs and Services

9. Where can I go for more information on the experiential learning component?
Career Development & Experiential Learning
The Centre for Career Development
The Smallwood Centre, Room UC-4002
Open: Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm (4:30pm in summer)
Phone: (709) 864-2033
cdel at mun.ca
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