Experiential Learning and Impact on Career Readiness
Dr. Ginger Rodriguez, Experiential Learning, Calumet College of St. Joseph
Following a review of the substantial research about five important approaches to experiential learning – internships, problem- or project-based learning (PBL), service learning, study abroad, and undergraduate research – the faculty experiential learning committee finds that the practice offers significant potential for achieving Goals 3, 4, and 5 of Calumet College of St. Joseph’s 2012 strategic plan. This potential can only be fully met, however, if common best practices across these different types of experiential learning are utilized. This report fully outlines the potential advantages and problems in implementing experiential learning at Calumet College, and it identifies best practices. As a result of this review of the research, the committee recommends expanding internships, continuing the College’s commitment to service learning, expanding study abroad opportunities, expanding undergraduate research, and implementing a pilot project in three academic departments to investigate the potential for project-based learning (PBL) at the College.
Calumet College of St. Joseph’s mission statement emphasizes the student-centered approach that inspired its founding in 1951: “Calumet College of St. Joseph is a Catholic institution dedicated to the academic, spiritual and ethical development of undergraduate and graduate students. Drawing on a long tradition of social justice and service informed by the values of its founding religious community, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood (C.PP.S.), the College values and promotes diversity, student empowerment, opportunity and lifelong learning.” The mission is not just words on a page at Calumet College, and the 2012 – 2013 Strategic Plan provides a comprehensive analysis of the College’s performance in relation to it. Goals 3, 4, and 5 speak directly to the College’s impact on students’ academic, spiritual, and ethical development: they call for demonstrating “exemplary levels of achievement in student learning,” promoting “scholarly activity among our faculty and students,” and engaging “in the broader life of the community.” The Association of American Colleges and Universities has identified experiential learning as a high-impact learning practice that is effective in achieving these goals. Following an AQIP project to investigate the potential of the practice for CCSJ, the faculty committee on experiential learning recommends expanding internships, continuing the College’s commitment to service learning, expanding study abroad opportunities, and expanding undergraduate research.
- Improved critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
- Increased awareness of social issues and their relationship to academic studies
- Increased understanding of the relevance of academic learning to real-life situations
Intended Audience: Administrators, Faculty, Staff, Students