What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential Learning has been a part of the Trinity curriculum since the University’s founding in 1869. Experiential Learning, or “learning by doing,” requires repetition and reflection over time. Examples include service learning, internships, and hands-on activities. Indeed, the development of this exhibit is an example of experiential learning in the humanities. Trinity faculty have incorporated these approaches in their teaching inside and outside of the classroom and across all disciplines. The fine arts departments provided the first opportunities for Experiential Learning, allowing students to participate in creating their own art, music, and plays. Gradually, more departments adopted this approach to education. Departments such as the natural sciences and the School of Business, founded later in the 19th century, expanded to include labs, field trips, and entrepreneurship projects. Today, Trinity University recognizes Experiential Learning as a foundational element of the student experience, intending it to educate students and to prepare them for the job market.
Repetition serves as a fundamental element of Experiential Learning, allowing students to perfect skills, better grasp class material, and prepare themselves for the transition into the job market. Students with such experience have the added advantage of practicing what they have learned so that their practical skills reflect the claims of expertise on their CV and résumé. In addition, an ingrained familiarity with a given topic helps prepare students for graduate education and the professional world.
Equally important to the Experiential Learning process is the act of reflecting on concepts learned. Reflection allows students to relate information to personal experiences by articulating them as well as gain an evolving understanding of skills acquired. Trinity encourages students to reevaluate their experiences, whether in internships or in the classroom, in order to take what they have learned with them into daily life. Faculty members incorporate reflection into their teaching, encouraging students to fill out course evaluation surveys after the course’s completion. These surveys cover both the material taught and the teaching style of the professor, allowing them to learn through reflection as well. Faculty members can thus improve on teaching methods for future generations of students.