Curricular Experiential Learning Categories and Criteria

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

Curricular Experiential Learning Categories

A program comprised of a required number of curated courses that promote specialized knowledge acquisition and skill development through hands-on experience and classroom learning, undertaken alongside a degree.

A program that integrates academic with paid workplace learning and skill development in a relevant field, through alternating work and study terms. Students receive a Co-operative Education Certificate upon completion.

A course that requires students to connect their learning and skill development to theoretical concepts through learning activities designed with a community organization to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

A course that intentionally integrates activities such as structured projects, laboratory work, design, simulations, performances, competitive practice, live or field case studies, or entrepreneurship to enable students to display their academic learning and skill development.

A course that prepares students for professional work through first-hand investigation and analysis in a field location, led by faculty, for part of or the full duration of a semester.

A course or program in which students gain experience and develop skills related to a field of study and/or career by completing a practicum, internship, field placement, or externship which may be part of a professional program.

Research conducted by a student under faculty guidance in a workplace/simulated workplace environment which may be in an academic, industry, or community setting. Students engage in systematic investigation and research in their field and are evaluated by faculty supervisors or staff.

Intersperses one or two work terms (typically full-time hours) as an elective or core course in an academic program, where work terms provide experience in a workplace setting related to the student’s field of study and/or career goals.

Curricular Experiential Learning Criteria

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 Criteria U 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.

Experience Profiles

  • Samantha is in her 5th year of undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph and is currently a SPARK writer, having previously completed course-integrated experiential learning.