University Hosts Inaugural Experiential Learning Institute

Published: July 06, 2015 | Author: Tommy Gugino | Read Time: 2 minutes

Southern Utah University in partnership with the National Society of Experiential Education (NSEE) led 60 educators from across the United States and Canada through the many issues faced with experiential learning as part of the inaugural Experiential Learning Leadership Institute hosted this week.

Patrick Clarke, SUU dean of University College and engaged learning said the institute was created in order to bring together leaders in higher education and K-12, as well as leaders in the nonprofit sector, to provide them an opportunity to come together to share and develop their ideas on experiential learning.

“One of the things we feel is missing in the national dialogue is getting people from different areas to come together and have these larger discussions,” he said. “When people have discussions about experiential learning they usually have it in the context of their own disciplines.”

NSEE President James Colbert flew from South Carolina to attend the Institute and said the purpose of experiential education is to better prepare students for the workforce as they leave college.

“Employers are now looking for this on résumés and they love to see real work experience from graduates,” he said. “I think these internships and other forms of experiential learning in higher education are giving students an opportunity to gain experience, which helps employers to see the capability of their employees to get their job done.”

According to a national study from Hart and Associates Research, 87 percent of employers would be more likely to hire someone with an experiential learning project on their resumes. In the same study 73 percent of employers believe an experiential learning project would improve the quality of career preparation, which Colbert said has created a greater push for higher education institutions to offer these experiences for students. 

The Institute also included a panel discussion with leaders from local businesses, two workshops toward earning the NSEE Experiential Education Academy Certificate, a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park and a performance of The Taming of the Shrew by the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

The participants also had the opportunity to split into smaller groups to participate in hands on learning with some of SUU’s partners including the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Zion National Park and Shakespeare in the Schools.

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