Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning is a process by which educators engage students through a cycle of direct experience, reflection, analysis and experimentation. It encourages deep learning, inspires personal growth and promotes active citizenship.


Based on real-world questions and applications Promotes deep understanding over memorization Leads to mastery of academic and life skills
Students collect and sort evidence, and move between classroom study areas designated for different types of exploration. Students explore the immigrant experience in America through classroom study, role-playing, and visits to historic neighborhoods. Students study the characteristics of an aquatic ecosystem, collect data in nature, and analyze their findings in the classroom.

Students in Ecology and Statistics courses collect stream water samples on campus, and work together to assess fertilizer residue levels. 

Teachers encourage students to describe what they observed and wonder aloud, and ounderstand the work and rewards of study. With “question journals,” students consider larger issues: Why did immigrants choose America, and why did they choose to stay? The researchers are challenged to make sense of the information they collected: 

How can it be used to tell if an ecosystem is healthy?

The team applies math knowledge to interpret the data, and science knowledge to reflect on the ecological implications. 

As students collect facts, they consider how their newfound knowledge is changing what they previously thought to be true. Students explore the concept of immigration from a personal point of view, embodying character’s journeys along on a “story path.” Eco-narrative blogs are produced, with students expressing their thoughts through questions, conjecture, and imagined scenarios.

With new understandings about bioswales and aquifers–and human impact on their environment–they begin to imagine alternatives. 

Students gain skills they can use to pursue any interest: examination, observation, and inquiry, and using books as research tools.

By considering multiple perspectives, students develop critical thinking skills that can be applied to other interests or fields of study.

Students learn cross-cutting concepts and gain skills in systems thinking, including modeling, structure and function, and cause and effect. 

Students see how the statistical models they used to analyze cause and effect can be applied to almost any collection of data.