Wednesday, January 22

Maximizing the Impact of Experiential Learning: Empowering Students by Developing Transferable Skills in the Classroom First


The following article describes an approach to maximizing the impact of experiential learning by first developing transferable skills in the context of in-class activities.

By Steve Joordens

The specified process, captured within a technology called peerScholar, provides structured practice with these skills first in the context of peer assessment, and then in the context of the formative use of feedback. A specific approach for using this process in combination with experiential learning is proposed.

Important points to consider include:

  • In the modern world, transferable skills are critical to student success in both their careers and their lives more generally.
  • Experiential learning is currently a “hot” approach for allowing students to develop these skills in authentic settings.
  • The success of experiential learning, however, depends on the extent to which students are ready for the challenge.
  • Educational institutions should therefore place a strong emphasis on preparing students before they work with external agencies, which means we need to take a more formal approach to the development of skills.
  • An evidence-based process now exists for the formal development of skills, a process that gives students practice thinking critically and creatively, while communicating critically with peers.
  • The exercise first occurs in the context of peer-assessment, and then occurs again in the context of formative revision informed by peer feedback.
  • This process can be managed by existing technologies, requires little in the way of additional time and resources from faculty, can scale to any course at any level, and is valued by both faculty and students.
  • The formal proposal then is that the described process be employed early in the education process, and that it continue to be employed throughout. Meanwhile experiential learning can be phased in, with more intense experiential opportunities being presented once students have developed their skills further.

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