six students involved in Experiential Learning

About Experiential Learning

The University of Guelph has a long history of providing experiential learning (EL) opportunities to students through programs offered by our seven academic colleges and robust on- and off-campus co-curricular offerings. Explore the information below to learn more about experiential learning at the University.

8,000+ partners
in the community and in industry, posting opportunities for students and alumni
131 courses
meeting all six Ministry of Colleges and Universities criteria for experiential learning
60+ Co-op programs
with over 5,000 co-op students
775 students
provided 2,200 hours of service to 31 organizations

U of G Definition of Experiential Learning

In 2016–2017, experiential learning (EL) was defined by the University of Guelph's Experiential Learning Task Force as:

A pedagogical practice whereby students gain new knowledge, skills and abilities due to the intentional application of classroom learning in a workplace or simulated workplace setting. Experiential learning opportunities are grounded in an intentional learning cycle and clearly defined learning outcomes. They engage students actively in creating knowledge and critically reflecting on their experiences, allowing them to understand how to transfer their knowledge and skills to future endeavours.

Benefits of Experiential Learning

 Transferable Skills Development

Developing and strengthening of transferable knowledge, skills, and attitudes sought by employers.

 Professional Networking

Establishing professional networks.

 Career Exploration

Exploring and confirming career options and direction.

 Real-World Application

Applying disciplinary theory in real-world contexts.

 Tailored Learning

Tailoring learning to meet individual personal, academic, and career goals

 Gaining References

Reference for employment or further education applications.

Curricular and Course-based Experiential Learning

Curricular and course-based experiential learning are for-credit experiences that are offered through the University of Guelph's academic colleges. There are currently eight categories of experiential learning at the University of Guelph, approved by Senate in June 2020.

In 2017, the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) identified six criteria that must be met in order for an activity to be considered experiential learning. Alongside these criteria, the MCU specifies that the EL environment must be accessible and in compliance with all laws and regulations.

In 2020, the Experiential Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) contextualized the six criteria to the University of Guelph. This contextualization provides the framework for understanding whether a course or curricular activity is experiential learning.

MCU EL CriteriaU of G Contextualization
The student is in a workplace or simulated workplace.The student is in a workplace or an environment that models or emulates a workplace in function, equipment or operation, wherein a student engages in activities reflecting real work experience.
The student is exposed to authentic demands that improve their job-ready skills, interpersonal skills, and transition to the workforce.

The student’s experience is designed to strengthen transferable skills, career competencies, and/or citizenship—all of which supports transition to the workforce.

"Authentic Demands" are defined as work contexts, processes or practical experiences, with real-world application.

The experience is structured with purposeful and meaningful activities.The experience includes learning outcomes that support and are constructively aligned with the student’s program learning outcomes and includes active supervision/mentorship of the student.
The student applies university or college program knowledge and/or essential employability skills.The student applies university learning outcomes, program knowledge and/or essential employability skills (adopted from the Conference Board of Canada).
The experience includes student self-assessment and evaluation of the student's performance and learning outcomes by the employer and/or university/college.

The experience includes student self-assessment, such as reflection or self-evaluation of knowledge and/or learning progress.

The experience includes formal evaluation of learning outcomes by the institution and if applicable, the industry/community partner.

The experience counts towards course credit or credential completion or is formally recognized by the college or university as meeting the five criteria above.The experience counts towards course credit or credential completion or is formally recognized on the experience learning record.


Co-curricular Experiential Learning

Co-curricular experiential learning are not-for-credit experiences that are offered through a variety of academic and non-academic departments at the University of Guelph. There are currently thirteen categories of co-curricular experiential learning at the University of Guelph.

The following six (6) criteria must be met for a co-curricular experience to be recognized on the Professional and Career Development Record (PCDR).

  1. Experience is offered by or in affiliation with U of G and adheres to a mutually agreed upon letter of understanding with the EL Hub.
    • Affiliation can include:
      • A recognized student organization as defined in the University of Guelph's Student Organization Policy (SOP),
      • An external partner with an affiliation agreement, memorandum of understanding, or other formal relationship with the University of Guelph.
  2. Accurate participation records are available and experience completion is validated by faculty or staff of the University of Guelph.
    • Participation records means that the activity has the capacity to produce accurate lists of student participants that have completed all requirements of the experience for a given academic year. Any list would require at least one U of G identifier (e-mail address or student ID).
    • Staff can include graduate students and senior undergraduate students in paid leadership positions.
  3. Experience is clearly structured with learning outcomes designed to strengthen transferable skills, career competencies, and/or citizenship—all of which supports transition to the workforce.
    • Clearly structured means the experience includes:
      1. Learning outcomes that are constructively aligned with common employability knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs), and
      2. Active supervision/mentorship where students are provided with intentional guidance and support in achieving the learning outcomes of the experience.
  4. Students complete self-assessment or reflection activities on the development of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs).
  5. Experience takes place in a real or simulated workplace that reflects authentic work demands.
    • Real or simulated workplace means an environment that models or emulates a workplace in function, equipment, or operation, wherein a student engages in activities reflecting real work experience.
    • Authentic work demands are defined as work contexts, processes, or practical experiences, with real-world application.
  6. Students receive feedback on their performance and learning outcomes from U of G staff or faculty, or an external supervisor such as an employer or community partner.

Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes (KSAs)


Business and Financial Information and its Application

The ability to make sense of and apply concepts, theories, and practices of business, management, and finance.

Interview Questions
  • Imagine that you are the CEO of a company and an opportunity for a merger was presented. What are some reasons why this might be happening? What factors would influence your decision?
    • Rubric: Identifies multiple reasons for a merge. Defines factors that influence mergers. Answer is clear and thought process is shown, demonstrating critical analysis.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you identify the need for a new business/financial system?
  • How have you been able to apply what you have learned in your business-related courses to the context of our organization?
  • What new concept did you learn or teach yourself to do in this role that may be useful in the future?

Cultural and Civic Information and its Application

The ability to make sense of and apply concepts, theories, and practices from the arts and humanities.

Interview Questions
  • Please describe how you would create a team environment where differences are valued, encouraged, and supported, and provide an example of when you have previously done this.
    • Rubric: Articulates principles of inclusion. Demonstrates the ability to apply theory to real-world practice. Provides an example that supports evidence of this ability.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you observe that differences are valued, encouraged, and supported in your workplace? If not, what recommendations would you have for improvement?
  • What did you learn in this role that influenced how you view your position in society (gender, ethnicity, ability, etc.)?

Digital and Technical Information and its Application

The ability to make sense of and apply concepts, theories, and practices from communication, scientific, mechanical, and design technologies.

Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a coding project you are proud of. What sparked your interest in the project, and how did you overcome any challenges?
    • Rubric: Demonstrates genuine interest in the project. Provides a clear explanation of the coding and technical skills used to complete the project. Demonstrates problem-solving when describing how challenges were overcome.
Reflection Questions
  • How has your opinion of the role changed based on using technology (e.g., social media, certain lab devices)? And would you use the same technique in the future?
  • What is an example of how using this technology has made a program/tasks/concept/registration/information sharing more accessible?
  • What software or technology are you using in this role that you were not previously familiar with? Do you see yourself using this in the future and how?

Mathematical Information and its Application

The ability to make sense of and apply mathematical concepts, theories, and practices.

Interview Questions
  • There's one box that has 12 black and 12 red cards, and a second box that has 24 black and 24 red. If you want to draw 2 cards at random from one of the 2 boxes, which box has a higher probability of getting the same color? Please explain your thought process.
    • Rubric: Examines the two options using probability concepts. Arrives at a clear decision. Explains thought process using plain language.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you make sense of new mathematical models/theories you learned in your position?
  • How have you been able to apply what you have learned in your math-related courses to the context of this role?
  • What new concept did you learn or teach yourself to do in this role that may be useful in the future?

Scientific Information and its Application

The ability to make sense of and apply scientific concepts, theories, and practices from the natural, social, and applied sciences.

Interview Questions
  • Please provide an example of how you applied quantitative or qualitative research and evaluation methods for date collection and analysis. What did you learn from that experience?
    • Rubric: Provides a clear example of research experience. Identifies how they completed data collection and analysis. Demonstrates thoughtful reflection of the experience.
Reflection Questions
  • Was there data/research that surprised you?
  • Was there an experiment that did not work correctly the first time? How did you change your approach before re-running it? How would you do it again in the future?
  • How have you been able to apply what you have learned in your lab courses to the context of this role?
  • What new concept did you learn or teach yourself to do in this role that may be useful in the future?


Oral Communication

The ability to exchange information and ideas with other people through speech, active listening, and non-verbal cues.

Interview Questions
  • Please describe a time when you had to actively listen to someone else. Why is active listening important and how did you show them that you were actively listening?
    • Rubric: Describes understanding of active listening. Demonstrates understanding of importance of active listening. Identify at least three markers of active listening.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you gauge how your message was best received?
  • Did you feel the intended audience had a hard time understanding your message? How would you change your approach?
  • Considering a specific presentation that you delivered, what do you believe went well? What would you do differently in the future?

Visual Communication

The ability to find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media.

Interview Questions
  • What do you think are important things to consider when creating marketing materials that are not only visually appealing but are appropriate for a wide audience? Can you provide an example of when you have done this before?
    • Rubric: Explains their definition of effective visual communication. Demonstrates understanding of accessibility in a communication context. Provides a clear of example of when they have done this previously.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you gauge how your message was best received?
  • How did you ensure your graphic was engaging and accessible? And how did you come to that conclusion?

Written Communication

The ability to communicate information and ideas through written or typed text.

Interview Questions
  • How would you go about breaking a complex task into instructions for someone else on your team? Please provide an example of when you have done this previously.
    • Rubric: Explains how to create clear instructions through prioritization. Demonstrates understanding of written communication. Provides a clear example of when they have done this previously.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you gauge how your message was best received?
  • When you started this position, how did you learn how to communicate effectively?

Creativity and Innovation

The ability to imagine and devise new ways of addressing problems, answering questions, or expressing meaning through the application, synthesis, or repurposing of knowledge.

Interview Questions
  • Based on your understanding of the role, if you were given the opportunity to make any change to the [programs/projects/services] this role is involved with, what would you change and why?
    • Rubric: Identifies a potential change. Demonstrates understanding of the role. Provides explanation for the change. Demonstrates ability to identify a new creative or innovative approach.
Reflection Questions
  • What new ideas did you come up with and how can they be implemented in the future?
  • If you could change anything about this role or our department, what would it be and why?

Critical and Analytical Thinking

The ability to identify, analyze, and evaluate situations, ideas and information.

Interview Questions
  • Imagine that you and your teammates disagree on how to approach a task. How would you go about finding a solution? What have you done in the past when a disagreement occurred?
    • Rubric: Clearly describes their approach to finding a solution. Considers different factors involved in this situation. Identifies a specific solution.
Reflection Questions
  • Describe an instance in your research where you ran into a problem or issue and how you would change your approach when faced with similar problems.
  • When were you able to take on someone else's perspective in your work (perhaps when coming up with a new idea or trying to solve a challenge)? How did seeing things from another point of view influence your thinking?

Knowledge Integration

The ability to integrate and apply relevant information from a variety of sources into new and broader contexts.

Interview Questions
  • If you were successful in being selected for this role, what is one way that you would translate your existing interests or knowledge into your work?
    • Rubric: Identifies related interests/knowledge. Demonstrates a clear understanding of the role. Connects existing interest/knowledge with the role.
Reflection Questions
  • How were you able to organize various different pieces of scholarly work to best inform your research practice?
  • What is something you previously knew that turned out to be useful in this role?


The ability to assess, prioritize, and evaluate potential solutions to problems by asking relevant questions, identifying root causes, and gathering facts.

Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a time when you had to come up with a creative solution to a problem. What was the problem, how did you identify a solution, and is there anything you would do differently in the future?
    • Rubric: Provides context about the problem that needed solving. Explains how they evaluated possible solutions. Articulates what did/did not go well with the result. Demonstrates the ability to identify and enact possible solutions to problems.
Reflection Questions
  • How would you describe your problem-solving style and how did you navigate solving problems in your role?
  • Based on what you have learned in this role, what do you think you may do differently when it comes to solving problems in the future?

Conflict Management

The ability to identify sources of conflict and take steps to minimize or overcome disharmony.

Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a coworker or group project member. What steps did you follow to resolve this disagreement?
    • Rubric: Identifies steps for resolving a disagreement. Focuses on finding a mutual resolution to disagreement. Emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive workplace relationship. Demonstrates understanding of differing perspectives.
Reflection Questions
  • There are five types of conflict management: collaborating, competing, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising. Which do you identify with and how did you navigate conflict using this style in your role? Was this the right approach? How might you approach conflict differently?
  • Was there a situation where you disagreed with someone? How did you end up resolving this?


The ability to direct, guide, and motivate others to accomplish a common goal or purpose.

Interview Questions
  • Imagine taking the lead on a group project or a collaborative task. How would you go about motivating others to accomplish a common goal? What values would guide your approach?
    • Rubric: Describes a plan for motivating a group toward a common goal. Pays consideration to different strengths and interests among a group. Identifies the values that would guide them as a leader.
Reflection Questions
  • What did you learn about yourself from this experience and how would you use that knowledge to adapt and respond to new leadership opportunities?
  • How would your peers describe your leadership style, and why? What is an example that supports this?

Social and Cultural Agility

The ability to communicate, interrelate, and function well in diverse social and cultural settings.

Interview Questions
  • Imagine that you are approached by a team member who lets you know that you used a term that was not inclusive and carries a problematic meaning that you were unaware of. How would you respond?
    • Rubric: Describes how they would respond. Acknowledges the harm caused by using the term. Demonstrates willingness to learn and do better in the future.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you demonstrate inclusive and respectful behaviour toward others?
  • Working in diverse teams can give us a new appreciation for cultures or identities we were previously not familiar with. What is something you have learned that will impact your interactions with people going forward?

Teamwork and Collaboration

The ability to contribute to the shared purpose of a group, network or partnership through a commitment to sharing power, resources, expertise, and perspectives.

Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a time where you worked with a team to successfully complete a project. This could be a school project, volunteer experience, or work experience. What was your specific role, and what did you learn about teamwork from this experience?
    • Rubric: Provides a clear example of a teamwork scenario. Explains their individual role on the team and how they contributed. Articulates what they gained from this experience. Demonstrates the ability to work well with others in a professional and positive manner.
Reflection Questions
  • What were the benefits you experienced when working on a team as opposed to taking on this work independently?
  • What were the challenges you faced when working together on this project as opposed to completing it independently?
  • How did seeing things from another point of view influence your views on collaboration?


The ability to make timely decisions based on thorough assessment of short- and long-term effects, recognizing political and ethical implications on those affected.

Interview Questions
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you have had to make. This could come from personal experience, a job, or a school project. What factors impacted your decision, and how did you evaluate which option to choose? Reflecting today on that decision, do you feel this was the right choice?
    • Rubric: Identifies a clear process for decision making. Defines factors that impacted the different options. Reflects on impact of decision and considers potential ethical implications.
Reflection Questions
  • What was the process you went through to make decisions? Can this be generally applied to all decisions? What would you change/keep the same the next time?
  • Were there any challenging decisions that you had to make? What made this decision difficult?

Information Management

The ability to locate, select, organize, and document information from a variety of sources using appropriate technology and information systems.

Interview Questions
  • Tell me about the steps you take when writing a research paper. How do you organize information to ensure everything is properly referenced and is from a credible source? What tools or strategies do you use?
    • Rubric: Identifies relevant tools and showcases organizational skills. Demonstrates evidence of critical thinking when evaluating sources. Provides a specific example to support these skills.
Reflection Questions
  • How did you identify the need to better organize information and how did you go about implementing that?
  • What tools, software, or resources did you use to manage information? Do you feel this was effective?

Planning and Organizing

The ability to establish tasks and allocate resources to meet objectives, monitor progress, and revise plans to reflect new information.

Interview Questions
  • Tell us about a time when you had to break down a larger project into smaller tasks. How did you break up the project, set timelines, and ensure that all tasks were completed? This can be an example from school, work, or volunteering.
    • Rubric: Identifies how the project was broken down into tasks. Articulates how they set appropriate timelines to ensure project completion. Describes how they monitored completion. Demonstrates the ability to navigate multiple tasks to complete a project.
Reflection Questions
  • How did the process of planning [this event] change from your first week to how you would do it again next time?
  • How do you break down larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks? How will these skills in organizing be useful in the future?

Time Management

The ability to manage several tasks at once, being able to set priorities and allocate time efficiently to meet deadlines.

Interview Questions
  • If you were asked to complete a list of tasks in this role all due on the same date, how would you go about choosing which task to complete first? How would you ensure that all tasks are completed?
    • Rubric: Articulates their process for prioritizing tasks. Demonstrates good judgement with prioritization based on several factors (i.e., urgency, who is involved, who benefits from the task). Describes how they would manage their time to ensure tasks are all completed.
Reflection Questions
  • How would you/your co-workers/the department be impacted if you could not adequately manage your time?
  • When you had several tasks to complete at the same time, how did you decide what to prioritize? How do you know your strategy was effective?



The ability to show flexibility and openness to changing plans, methods, opinions or goals in light of new information and changing circumstances; and the ability to work both independently and part of a team.

Interview Questions
  • Sometimes it is necessary to work in changing circumstances, where plans can change based on new information. When working as a team, what do you think is important when it comes to adjusting to situations that you don't have control over.
    • Rubric: Identifies a minimum of two considerations that are important. Articulates principles of effective teamwork. Demonstrates proactive, adaptable attitude toward uncertainty and change.
Reflection Questions
  • During the project, aspects were changed from in-person to virtual. How did you manage expectations, stress or anxiety, and your work with the change?
  • What things in your role did you not have control over, and how did you adjust to changing situations that affected you?
  • Was there a time when you adapted your methods or opinion based on new information? What happened?


The ability to ask questions and demonstrate open-mindedness and inquisitiveness.

Interview Questions
  • If you had to teach yourself a new skill, what would it be and why? Also, what resources would you use?
    • Rubric: Identifies something new they would teach themselves. Clearly explains what resources they would use to learn. Provides a reason for learning that demonstrates curiosity and enthusiasm.
Reflection Questions
  • Was there something of particular interest related to this position you researched more on your own and how would you link it to your area of study?
  • What are some questions you asked to learn more about your role and the impact your work had?


A willingness to proactively take on responsibilities and challenges.

Interview Questions
  • Please describe a time when you took the initiative to solve a problem. What impact did you make?
    • Rubric: Identifies a problem that needed to be solved. Clearly provides an example of how they solved the problem. Explains the impact or result of solving the problem.
Reflection Questions
  • How did it make you feel when your new idea/program/etc. was implemented?
  • How did you take initiative to teach yourself new things related to your work or the department/organization?
  • Do you feel you went above and beyond the expectations of this position? Why or why not?


The ability to sustain interest, effort, and motivation to persevere in accomplishing a task or goal.

Interview Questions
  • How do you motivate yourself to keep going and reach a goal that may suddenly have become more challenging to reach?
    • Rubric: Provides a specific example instead of speaking in generalities. Articulates principles of intrinsic motivation when working toward a goal. Demonstrates keen attitude toward unexpected challenges.
Reflection Questions
  • What value do you place on persistence and how do you feel when a large project is finally completed?
  • How did you keep yourself motivated when you were faced with a challenging task?


Includes the ability to set personal and professional goals, be accountable for actions, consider the needs of others, attend proactively to one's mental and physical wellbeing, and work safely.

Interview Questions
  • What does accountability mean to you? How have you been accountable to others in a previous experience?
    • Rubric: Provides a sound definition of accountability. Identifies an experience where they demonstrated accountability. Demonstrates an understanding of the impact they can have on others when it comes to upholding personal responsibility.
Reflection Questions
  • Who would be impacted if you were unable to show up without proper advance notice?
  • How did you consider the needs of others in your workplace and what was the impact if you were not held accountable for your actions?
  • Do you feel you were accountable to yourself in terms of maintaining your mental and physical health while in this role? If not, what would you do differently in the future?


Includes the ability to acknowledge and reflect on personal strengths, areas for development, values, limits, feelings, motivations, and biases.

Interview Questions
  • If I were to ask a previous supervisor, co-worker, or group project member about a skill or personal quality that you could improve on, what would they say and why?
    • Rubric: Identifies a skill or quality they can improve. Demonstrates genuine self-reflection through taking on the perspective of others. Provides rationale or example for why they can improve in this area.
Reflection Questions
  • How did this position impact how you understand yourself, your values, and strengths?
  • What is an area of skill development you would like to intentionally improve? How would you do this after this experience?
  • What was your original motivation for pursuing this opportunity? Did your experience align with your expectations and goals.

Experiential Learning Advisory Committee

The Experiential Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC) plays a leadership role in developing and evaluating experiential education programming at the University of Guelph, identifying gaps and areas for enrichment, assessing outcomes, and determining opportunities for collaboration within and outside of the institution. The overarching goal of ELAC is to provide advice to the University on ways to enhance and enrich experiential learning opportunities, both in and outside of the classroom. ELAC is chaired by the Director of Experiential Learning with support from the Vice-Provost (Student Affairs) and the Associate Vice-President (Academic), and is comprised of faculty, staff and students.

Advisory Committee Membership
  • Director, Experiential Learning (Chair)
  • Administrative Assistant (EL Hub) (Secretary)
  • Vice Provost, Student Affairs
  • Associate Vice-President, Academic
  • At least one representative from each of:
    • U of G's seven Academic Colleges
    • Office of Graduate Studies
    • University of Guelph-Humber
    • University of Guelph - Ridgetown Campus
    • Office of Academic Programs and Policy
    • Office of Teaching and Learning
    • Office of the University Librarian
    • Central Student Association
    • Graduate Students' Association
    • Open Learning
  • Staff from the Experiential Learning Hub (as needed)


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