Faculty Champions to promote experiential learning across the University

A longstanding leader in experiential education, Brock has launched a new program to further support, inspire and advance experiential learning across the University.

Organized by Brock’s Experiential Education (EE) team, the Faculty Champion initiative will see one full-time teaching faculty member from each of Brock’s six teaching Faculties take on a role that includes advocacy and support.

During their one-year terms, the Faculty Champions will meet with members of Brock’s EE team and colleagues in their respective Faculties to encourage the development of additional experiential learning resources and courses. They will also lead two workshops to showcase community resources and courses that include experiential education elements.

For Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Lori MacNeil, the role provides the chance to promote the idea that experiential learning can occur in all courses and in more ways than people might think.

“In the sciences, many courses incorporate experiential learning through labs and field research,” she said. “But students can gain valuable experience with course material through creative projects, such as creating videos, games and digital art. They can also connect with community partners and apply course knowledge to produce information packages or social media content.”

MacNeil hopes to spend her time in the role collaborating with colleagues to explore new forms of course delivery that create space for experiential opportunities.

“Delivering more content doesn’t always mean the students learn more,” she said. “We need to give students opportunities to absorb the content, reflect on their learning and produce a meaningful output demonstrating what they’ve taken in.”

Interim Manager of Experiential Education Elyse Lappano said the program allows her team to gain fresh insights and perspectives.

“The Faculty Champions program is a real game-changer because it formalizes a lot of the great support that our faculty have been providing for several years,” she said. “With Champions embedded into every Faculty, the institution now has confirmed subject-matter experts that can work to mentor other faculty members, while also continuing to develop experiential initiatives and ensure Brock stays ahead of the curve.”

MacNeil said her desire to advocate for experiential education is based on the positive impact it has made on her own teaching.

“I love being creative and trying new things to help engage students in a course and promote their learning,” she said. “Students learn best when they really experience the class material and have a chance to apply their knowledge through a range of different activities, in and out of the classroom.”

As she prepares for her year-long commitment, MacNeil is especially looking forward to the conversations she will get to have with colleagues.

“I hope to help make others aware of the resources and opportunities that are available at Brock for experiential learning and teaching,” she said. “I am excited to be an additional point of contact for anyone who wants to chat about teaching strategies and ways to incorporate experiential learning in their classes, or for anyone who is just looking for someone to bounce ideas off of.”

Along with MacNeil in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, this year’s Faculty Champions are:

  • Jean Ntakirutimana, Associate Professor of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities
  • Michael Ripmeester, Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Michael Mindzak, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education
  • Kai-Yu Wang, Professor of Marketing, Goodman School of Business
  • Asif Khowaja, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

To learn more about Brock’s Faculty Champion program, visit the Experiential Education website.

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