The terms rigor and relevance have rocketed to the forefront of K-12 education initiatives over the past 10 years, and with good reason. Research has
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
When I began designing my course activities, I needed a model that would include all modalities of the learning processes. As my blueprint, I chose
Underachievement in college students is linked to lack of motivation (Balduf, 2009 and references therein). Two major factors that contribute to poor motivation are inability of students to see the relevance of classroom activities to their chosen careers (Glynn et al., 2009) and lack of a sense of autonomy (Reeve and Jang, 2006; Reeve, 2009).
Experiential learning is widely recognized as a high-impact educational practice that occurs outside the classroom through experiences such as internships, study abroad, and service-learning. However, experiential learning works very well inside the classroom as well. In fact, there are a number of reasons why faculty may want to facilitate an experiential learning component in class rather than outside of class.
Fieldwork refers to any component of the curriculum that involves leaving the classroom and learning through firsthand experience. Most instructors incorporate fieldwork to help students understand theory, develop skills, integrate knowledge, build tacit knowledge, develop meaning in places, and work with peers and instructors in alternate settings.
A biology class works with a local environmental organization to test water samples from the Chesapeake Bay. A graphics design class helps a non-profit organization build a new website. A childhood development class serves as mentors to at-risk students in an after-school program.
A survey released last month suggests that many colleges and universities are reforming their general education programs and developing new curricular approaches and educational assessment strategies for measuring key learning outcomes. As institutions review their general education programs, many are choosing to incorporate more engaged and integrative curricular practices.
As educators we hear and heed Peter McLaren’s warning, “You can’t teach people anything … You have to create a context in which they can analyze themselves and their social formations and lives.” 1 We believe the creation of this context must be our aim as educators, and this context must be balanced between theory and practice. In our pursuit to strike this balance, we believe that experiential education has the potential to assist our fellow educators in transforming their pedagogical practices to more deeply engage their students and improve learning outcomes.