On Friday, April 19, the FIC partnered with the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) to host the first Experiential Learning Workshop. 35 attendees from across the campus, including Provost Maurie McInnis, gathered to discuss experiential learning. The workshop was the first in a series that will continue for several semesters.
By supporting course-based experiential learning, the Provost’s office, ELI, and the FIC, aim to make these activities more accessible to all undergraduates at UT-Austin. The workshop began by asking, "What is experiential learning, and must it occur outside of the classroom?" Dr. Anne Braseby, who architected the Experiential Learning DDIG, led an activity to address this question. Participants worked in small groups to categorize hypothetical classroom scenarios as either “real-life” or “academic.” While there were no “right” answers, the groups discussed how real-life tasks could occur in academic settings, inside as well as outside of the classroom. After discussion, participants watched a FIC video (below) about UT’s unique definition of experiential learning.
Dr. Lena Suk, Experiential Learning Specialist, facilitated group discussion about several concepts that are often associated with experiential learning. What do “student autonomy,” “student setbacks,” and “outside audience” mean in different disciplines? One group described student autonomy as “guided, supported discretion,” which led to a fruitful conversation about the need to scaffold autonomy, allowing students to practice necessary skills before pursuing their own projects.
Dr. Hillary Hart, the director of ELI, then debriefed with the group, explaining the five “hallmarks” of experiential learning. Dr. Hart previously worked with the Experiential Learning Faculty Working Group to develop these best practices for designing an experiential learning project. As student reflection is one of the hallmarks, Dr. Hart concluded the workshop with a short group reflection, asking participants to reflect on what they had learned.
To learn more about experiential learning at UT, you can join the DDIG, which has been recently updated with new pages about assessment. You can also attend forthcoming workshops on experiential learning, with the next slated for summer 2019.