Getting Started: Planning to Incorporate Experiential Activities

When beginning to think about incorporating an experiential component into your course, there are several steps to take:

  1. Analyzing your learner population and determining their needs. Are your students primarily at the graduate or undergraduate level? Are they mature learners with comprehensive past work experience, or have they never held a job in their field? What are their present levels of content mastery? Are there any cultural needs or variations? (Cantor, 1995, p.80). “Each person is a product of his or her cultural environment. Each person is conditioned over time to react in certain ways to given situations” (Chapman, McPhee & Proudman, 1995, p. 244). Instructors must understand that their students have been raised in a different cultural environment, and how this will impact their interactions.
  2. Identify appropriate activities for your learner population and course content. What activities are “appropriate for your course content and meet the cognitive development needs of your particular student population” (Cantor, 1995, p. 81)? Which aspects of your course content could experiential learning embellish? How does the activity you are considering meet course objectives or instructional goals? How does it allow students to experience key concepts in the course? How does the activity complement the program curriculum (Cantor, 1995, p. 82)?
  3. Identify potential issues when integrating experiential learning. What tradeoffs are necessary to include experiential activities in your course? When designing and modifying a course, will content have to be sacrificed to make time for activities? How will the activity fit within the program curriculum as a whole? Is there institutional support for replacing traditional course content with experiential activities? For external activities, what are the liability issues? How will partner institutions be selected and how will problems with partners be dealt with? How will students be placed to ensure equal opportunities for all (Cantor, 1995, p. 84)?
Extract from :
Prepared by Michelle Schwartz, Research Associate, for the Vice Provost, Academic, Ryerson University, 2012 http://www.ryerson.ca/lt 
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