The idea of building a course around various kinds of learning experiences for students continues to gain traction in higher education. The classic image of a professor standing before a class and delivering a lecture still applies, but universities increasingly use experiential learning to meet the needs of students.
Studio courses where students work on projects and receive immediate feedback from peers and professors are examples of experiential learning. So are workshops, clinicals, and lab courses.
Point Park University incorporates experiential learning into many of its online courses, helping students build a bridge to success in their chosen field. Developed and overseen by experienced staff, these courses allow students to put theories they’ve learned in class to work in real-world situations.
What Is Experiential Learning?
While experiential learning is not new, it’s taken on added importance in a changing world. People now have access to experiences in ways they never have before and companies market experiences almost as much as they do goods and products. As noted by Inside Higher Ed: “The Apple Store’s appeal lies not simply in the products it sells, but in the ways these products are showcased and staged.” Another popular example is museums that use revolving exhibits, special events, and films series to attract more visitors.
In higher education, experiential learning offers an alternative to the traditional classroom. In addition to the studios, labs, and clinicals often held on campus, some of the best opportunities are found off-campus. These include internships, fieldwork, apprenticeships, and studying abroad. Service learning, where students work as volunteers for a community organization, combines the learning experience with continuous reflection.
The Benefits of Experiential Learning
Education experts consider experiential learning a key component in helping students develop mastery of a subject. Experiential education helps students in many ways. Benefits include understanding the nature of work in a particular industry, learning how to leverage theory to solve practical challenges, and developing the specific competencies needed for success in contemporary work environments.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) lists several advantages for students who engage in experiential learning. They include building social skills, work ethic, and practical expertise. The AACU also writes that experiential learning bolsters academic learning, leading to:
- A deeper understanding of subject matter
- Increased capacity for both critical thinking and applying knowledge and skills in complex or ambiguous situations
- Increased ability to engage in lifelong learning, including learning in the workplace
Point Park University’s Commitment
Point Park University dedicates itself to providing students the benefits of experiential learning in their chosen major. This commitment starts with a faculty of professors with practical experience in their industry. With their experience in industry, instructors bring a wealth of insight into their teaching. Students learn how fundamental theories apply to practical situations.
One initiative reflecting Point Park’s approach is the Professional Career-Readiness Center. Through the center, the university offers valuable experiential learning opportunities, including internships and cooperative education. The center especially serves those students who struggle financially, presenting them with an opportunity to earn a college degree while also earning wages.
Point Park students enjoy opportunities to enhance their educational experience, including access to working professionals in their field, internships, and job opportunities. It’s part of Point Park’s dedication to providing students with all the necessary skills to achieve their career goals.