Event opens educators’ eyes to experiential options

Finding inspiration at a recent Brock event, Kemi Anazodo is re-examining the way she works with her students.

On Monday, Aug. 19 and Thursday, Aug. 22, the Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources at the Goodman School of Business joined 13 instructors and faculty members taking part in the University’s inaugural Experiential Education (EE) Institute.

The event, which received Career Ready funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, gave participants the opportunity to explore the spectrum of experiential learning opportunities they can develop both in and out of the classroom, while also designing reflective learning activities and evaluation strategies that will help to refine their efforts going forward.

For Anazodo, the workshops were a chance to rethink more than just a few student projects.

“I came for ideas on how to do EE better, but I left ready to potentially redesign my entire approach to the course by keeping in similar components but presenting them differently to make the activities more meaningful for students,” she said.

Brock recently announced experiential opportunities would be included in 100 per cent of the University’s programs for the first time this fall.

Many of the University’s courses feature a wide array of learning options that go beyond textbooks, such as surveying geological formations in the Canadian north, partnering with local businesses to streamline internal processes and interviewing family members to write Psychology papers based on hands-on research.

Sandy Howe, Brock’s Associate Director of Experiential Education, said the EE Institute reflects the next step in strengthening and adding to these offerings.

“The EE Institute has been a dream for years. It’s amazing to see it come to fruition with faculty who are engaged with developing high-quality experiential courses for Brock students,” she said. “Pulling everything together has led to another successful collaboration between EE and the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI).”

Howe said the two-day institute offered a chance for both senior and novice instructors to develop or enhance experiential elements in their classes.

“The participants came up with some really innovative ideas that involved working with local school boards and taking experiential opportunities online,” she said. “Having both new and tenured faculty participating speaks volumes of Brock’s reputation for offering high-quality experiential opportunities in all of our programs.”

Political Science Instructor Joanne Heritz said EE options in the Citizen Politics course, which has allowed students to work directly with political parties, unions and organizations that advocate for vulnerable populations, are helping to prepare them for the next steps beyond university.

“I believe it’s a way of taking their education beyond book learning,” she said. “We have opportunities to link local communities with education, which is a very important bridge for students and their future careers.”

As the EE Institute meetings came to a close, Howe had already begun preparing for future events.

“It helps us grow the number of experiential courses for all of our students and is definitely worth the effort,” she said. “We can’t wait to work with more instructors next year to keep expanding our EE options.”

To learn more about Experiential Education, visit Brock’s Co-op, Career and Experiential Education website.

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