The Importance of Experiential Learning

Our office coordinates study-away experiences for our Appalachian Community of Education Scholars (ACES) program. One such offering includes the sophomore year trip to Washington D.C. to visit local schools and explore the city. The picture I have featured is a group of us who were “detained” this year during our visit to the White House. Our names had been entered backwards (last, first) into their system so none of us had successfully passed the background check. We had a good laugh…because all teachers know the importance of checking your work! After a wait in a pen (yes, we are standing on mulch!), we were all eventually allowed to complete our tour. Definitely a nuisance, but overall it was an amusing experience for all involved.

It is moments like this, stuck inside our pen, that are so formative to the learning experience. It isn’t just the accolades students receive during their collegiate studies, but the experiences they have! It is an opportunity to put students in situations that require them to utilize learned content in a deep and meaningful manner.

I recently had a colleague come present to our students on Experiential Learning. He showed students the following chart (of which he utilized his own observations, no sound scientific research):

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 10.17.15 PM.png
Source: Jeremy Hachen, high school history teacher

Despite not utilizing scientific method, he had a point! We all tend to learn more by experiencing what we are learning, not just being told even though that lecture or information sharing is sometimes necessary as well.

I would love to create an experience for our students to visit New York City and learn from its diversity and vibrancy. It is important for future educators to be exposed to many different teaching and learning styles. You really can’t spend too much time observing or working in different classrooms! In our visits to Washington D.C. we have stumbled across a school that uses Making Thinking Visible, a pedagogy from the Harvard School of Education. It has been such a life-changing experience and many of our students impart that experience with intentions to use parts of that pedagogy in their classrooms. Since we currently only offer study-aways for our ACES students I hope to be intentional in offering an experience in NYC on a first-come, first-serve basis or at least to a different population.

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Megan Kasper

Megan attended Appalachian State University for both her undergraduate degree in Mathematics, Secondary Education and her master's degree in College Student Development. Having previously worked in high schools and college orientation, Megan loves combining these experiences to work with college students who are starting their teaching career. Megan volunteers her time working with Camp Twitch and Shout, a week-long summer camp for children with a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome. When she isn't rereading Harry Potter or Jane Austen novels, she enjoys cooking new recipies with her husband, traveling with her friends and twin sister, and loving on her furry friends, Bailey and Gus!

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