2019 Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching

Exploring experiential learning 

How do we transform education to spark curiosity, drive innovation and prepare students to thrive in their chosen careers?

What does learning look like in a postsecondary institution that emphasizes entrepreneurial, creative and critical thinking? How do we design teaching and scholarship that are informed by and contribute to our local, national and international communities? Experiential learning is increasingly prioritized in higher education. Students demand relevant and meaningful learning experiences and employers expect them to be equipped with the skills required by a changing workforce.

Under the umbrella of experiential learning, students are encouraged to participate in field experiences, cooperative education or internships, alternative break programs and applied research projects (among other opportunities). While different in their deliveries, programs under this broad umbrella treat learning as a process whereby students engage with new challenges and reflect on them, leading to deep learning and meaningful growth.

Ten years ago, in his work on student engagement, George Kuh challenged higher education to prioritize high-impact practices for every student (Kuh, 2008). In 2016, the Business and Higher Education Roundtable boldly posited that all postsecondary students should have access to participate in at least one work-integrated learning experience before they graduate (Academica Group, 2016). That same year, Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development also committed to ensuring that all students engage in experiential learning at least once before graduation (The Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Panel, 2016). In this rapidly evolving landscape, learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom shift to foreground “problems and questions to be solved” rather than “information to be remembered” (Wurdinger, 2005, p. 51). Institutions across Canada and around the world are contemplating ways of empowering students to be lifelong, reflective learners prepared to take on contemporary challenges.

The 2019 University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching invites faculty, instructors, administrators, librarians, staff, students and postdoctoral scholars to explore experiential learning—and the scholarship, approaches, practices and issues surrounding it—in the postsecondary context.

A Quality Framework for Work-Integrated Learning

Dr. Norah McRae, PhD, associate provost
University of Waterloo