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Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience. Experiential learning activities can include, but are not limited to, hands-on laboratory experiments, internships, practicums, field exercises, study abroad, undergraduate research and studio performances.

Well-planned, supervised and assessed experiential learning programs can stimulate academic inquiry by promoting interdisciplinary learning, civic engagement, career development, cultural awareness, leadership, and other professional and intellectual skills.

Certificate Program

Experiential Learning Certificate: This self-paced program provides an introduction to experiential learning and the University of Tennessee’s Experience Learning initiative. The certificate contains 5 modules that guide participants through experiential learning best practices and the student learning outcomes for the Experience Learning initiative. Both instructors experienced with EL pedagogy, and those new to it, will benefit from this foundational program.

List of Resources

Assessment Toolbox (Experiential Learning)This webpage provides multiple resources to meet various assessment needs, including a direct vs. indirect assessment guide, guided reflections for service-learning, collaboration rubric, ways to choose the right assessment tools, and rubrics for experiential learning.

Benefits of Experiential Learning: Research shows that students who are engaged with experiential learning benefit greatly from the experience. Here are some of those benefits.

Best Practices for Implementing Experiential Learning Online: Experiential learning is an excellent way to build community and reduce isolation in the online classroom. This webpage highlights the 8 principles of good practices for all experiential learning activities, as well as additional tips to help faculty implement best practices in an online environment.

Considerations Before Choosing an Internship at a For-Profit Business: This document serves to help faculty empower students considering an internship with a for-profit company to understand whether or not they should be considered employees, and therefore eligible for compensation and other important employee protections, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Considerations for Planning an Experiential Learning Course: This webpage serves as a quick guide to help faculty determine whether or not incorporating experiential learning into a course will be beneficial for students and if so, which type of experiential learning would best serve the course’s needs.

Direct Assessment (Experiential Learning): This webpage provides information on direct assessment, which is critical for evaluating Experience Learning’s impact on student learning at UT. This assessment will use a series of rubrics designed around each of the student learning outcomes and associated benchmarks.

Experience Learning Course Designation System: As an ongoing approach to identify and promote experiential learning opportunities for our students, and as an additional way to better support our faculty who teach these courses, the University of Tennessee developed a course designation system for academic courses that include service-learning, undergraduate research, and internships.

Experience Learning at UT: UT, Knoxville’s homepage for experience learning.

Experience Learning Resource Guide: The purpose of this resource guide is to provide the information you need as a faculty or staff member or academic advisor to be a part of Experience Learning, and to equip you to engage our students in the opportunities surrounding experiential education here at the University of Tennessee.

Experience Learning Reassessment Process: This webpage was developed to collect information from faculty members who teach Experience Learning Designated Courses. This process takes place annually each spring and seeks to provide faculty members teaching these courses with an opportunity to submit their syllabus and self-evaluate their course, before a faculty subcommittee also reviews the course for its continued adherence to one of the three Experience Learning Designations (S, R, or N) rubrics. Courses are reassessed 5 years after being originally approved to carry one of the designations.

Experience Learning Student Learning Outcomes: This webpage provides information on the core Student Learning Outcomes of the Experiential Learning QEP initiative.

Explaining “Why Experiential Learning?” to Students: This webpage seeks to equip you by helping explain the academic and professional value of experiential learning to students.

Find an Experiential Learning Opportunity (Guide for Students): From your first semester on campus through your graduate studies, it’s never too early or late to get involved in experiential learning. This webpage is meant to serve as a guide for student get involved in experiential learning opportunities.

How to Assess Lifelong Learning: This webpage covers some of the key attributes of lifelong learning, how to measure attainment of lifelong learning outcomes, and how to determine the best methods to assess lifelong learning in your experiential course.

Inclusivity in Experiential and Service-Learning Courses: This document seeks to raise considerations to help foster inclusivity and cultural competency through your experiential or service-learning course. It also identifies online resources provided by Teaching & Learning Innovation and other campus offices who can work with you to create an inclusive experience for all involved.

Indirect Assessment (Experiential Learning): This webpage provides information on indirect assessments, which complement direct assessments by measuring changes in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors resulting from experiential learning.

Introduction to Orientations & Trainings: When facilitating an experiential learning opportunity, it can sometimes be tempting to dive in to the project or activity and immediately get started. However, it is a good practice to first provide students with an orientation to the activity, community, or partner with whom they will be working. This resources provides tips to providing such opportunities. 

Online Service-Learning in a Nutshell: This document provides an overview of how service-learning and online learning can coincide and be successfully implemented within a course.

Online Service-Learning Exercises for Students: This webpage outlines three exercises that are designed to help students in online service-learning courses develop a sense of place and prepare them for responsible service.

Reflection Activities: This document provides reflection activities for prior knowledge about a subject/topic, cognition, metacognition, competency, and for personal growth and change.

Risk Management Resources: This webpage provides a Risk Management Handbook, the Risk Management Cycle, Risk Identification and Assessment tables, Impact and Likelihood tables, and a risk map. All of these resources are downloadable and interactive for your personal use.

Role-Playing in the College ClassroomThis document provides an overview of role playing, which is categorized as one of the twelve types of experiential learning at UT Knoxville. 

S-Designation: The Service-Learning (S) course designation is intended to allow departments to demonstrate alignment of proposed service-learning courses with University of Tennessee, Knoxville standards for effectiveness. This webpage provides an overview of the S-Designation application process.

Service-Learning Course Design Guide: This guide can serve as a planning tool to guide faculty through the process of designing a service-learning course in alignment with the standards of UT’s new S course designation. Additionally, this guide can serve as a reference tool that includes helpful resources to support service-learning instructors.

Service-Learning Course Workbook: This workbook accompanies the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Service-Learning Course Design Guide. Both the guide and the workbook were created through a partnership between the Office of Service-Learning and the Teaching and Learning Center to assist faculty who are planning a service-learning course.

Service-Learning in a Nutshell: This document provides a brief, general overview of what service-learning is.

Service-Learning Risk Management: This webpage Compliance measures, working with minors,

Service-Learning: A Practical Guide for Faculty on Managing Partnership Logistics, Student Intake, & Orientation Processes with Knoxville Nonprofits: This document provides an overview of partnership logistics when working with local nonprofits.

The Positive Role of Acknowledging Students’ Successes: This is a helpful roadmap to use when considering how to identify and celebrate students’ successes during an experiential learning course or opportunity.

Tips for Developing Experience Learning Coursework: Experiential learning courses are demanding for both instructor and student. Their roles are interactive and reciprocal. As faculty, there may be many ways you can incorporate experiential learning activities into your existing teaching structure, which are outlined on this webpage.

Tips to Help Students Develop Skills for Lifelong LearningThis document outlines six habits for students to grasp that learning is a dynamic process that does not cease when they leave the university, and to recognize that they can find value in incorporating these principles into their lives right now.

Using Reflection to Increase Student Learning in Online Experiential Learning: Online experiential learning creates unique challenges and opportunities, and exploring those challenges and opportunities through reflection can increase students’ learning and application of learning to real-world contexts. This document outlines questions to ask your students to initiate reflection in your courses.