Pen & Book
Office of the
Associate Vice-President (Academic)

Experiential Education

In experiential education, the student becomes more actively involved in the learning process than in traditional, didactic education. For example, learning, interaction and being able to relate through a co-op work term or practicum.

Educators operate under the assumption that: educational goals can be effectively met by allowing the nature of learner's educational experience to influence the educational process.

Experiential education must incorporate reflection (see Kolb & Fry's model below) as part of the learning process. Students typically write reports or journals describing what they have learned. Students must be able to relate what they have learned in practice to theories and principles within their disciplines.

For more please see:


The Classic Learning Cycle Model From Kolb and Fry



Learning can begin at any one of the four stages- it is really a continuous cycle of learning.

      • Co-op work terms- Co-operative education facilitates student learning and career development. By working in partnership with industry, the aim is to enable students to "learn by doing," and to allow employers to select and train the workforce of tomorrow. Typically paid positions.


      • Internships- a period of paid work experience, typically of 12 to 16 months duration, that is an integral part of a program of post-secondary study. Students are employed in settings which provide work experience directly related to their academic programs and career objectives.
        Canadian Association for Internship Programs


      • Volunteer work- a commitment of 4 to 8 hours a week (sometimes more) either as part of a course or for professional interest. Students are able to gain experience and develop skills "hands on." Typically unpaid positions.
        Student Volunteer Connections (UoG)


      • Practica/ placements- provide students with the opportunity to gain intensive, practical sessions (usually at least 8 hours or one day a week) under supervision. This approach allows students to understand, and solve, discipline-oriented problems from both a theoretical and applied perspective. Typically unpaid positions.


      • Fieldwork- students involvement in the research process and data collection "in the field." A chance for students to integrate learned theory with practice and the creation of original work. Could be a large or small part of a course (an assignment for example). Typically unpaid unless the work is part of a larger research project (research assistantship).


      • Community Service Learning (CSL)- integrates service experiences within academic courses or extra-curricular programs. With a strong emphasis on inclusive partnerships between universities and non-profit community organizations, clear objectives are set for both the student learning that occurs and the resulting benefits to the community. Effective CSL programs help students connect real-life experience to more theoretical classroom study and develop their individual values, sense of social responsibility and leadership skills. These innovative programs are designed to connect the resources of universities, the energy and intellect of university students and the front line experience of community agencies, in order to better understand and address critical social issues. Below is a list of the key charcterisics of CSL:
          • Within curricular CSL, service links to academic content and standards, and is appropriate to student learning goals
          • In extra-curricular CSL programs, service links to student learning and development goals
          • Involves collaboration between faculty/staff, students and community organizations to determine and meet real, defined community needs
          • Reciprocal in nature, benefiting both the community and the service providers by combining a service experience with a learning experience
          • Integrates a strong reflective element in order to maximize meaningful learning
          • Can be used in any subject or program area so long as it is appropriate to identified learning and/or development goals







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