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The 12 Types of Experiential Learning

Experiential learning can come in many different forms at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and can occur both in and outside the classroom. Types of experiential learning that students may be exposed to through Experience Learning include:


Clinical experiences

  • Clinical experiences provide hands-on experiences of a predetermined duration directly tied to an area of study, such as nursing students participating in a hospital-based experience or child development and teacher education students participating in day care and classroom settings.
  • Colleges where clinical experiences exist: College of Nursing


  • Provide tuition or aid to support the training of students for a period of time. They are usually made by educational institutions, corporations, or foundations to assist individuals pursuing a course of study or research.
  • Visit UT Knoxville’s Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships for more information on fellowship opportunities.

Field work

  • Field work allows students to explore and apply content learned in the classroom in a specified field experience away from the classroom. Field work experiences bridge educational experiences with an outside community that can range from neighborhoods and schools to anthropological dig sites and laboratory settings.
  • Colleges where field work exists: College of Social Work


  • Internships provide students with an opportunity to test the waters in a career field and also gain some valuable work experience. Internships can be for credit, not for credit, paid, or unpaid. 
  • All undergraduate-serving UT colleges offer internship opportunities for students. Visit UT Knoxville’s Center for Career Development for more information about internship opportunities for students.


  • Practicums often a required component of a course of study and place students in a supervised and often paid situation. Students develop competencies and apply previously studied theory and content, such as school library media students working in a high school library or marketing majors working in a marketing research firm.
  • UT colleges where practicums exist: College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences 


  • Service learning is distinguished by being mutually beneficial for both student and community. Service-learning is growing rapidly and is considered a part of experiential education by its very nature of learning, performing a job within the community, and serious reflection by the student. Service-learning involves tackling some of society’s complex issues such as homelessness, poverty, lack of quality education, pollution, etc.
  • All undergraduate-serving UT colleges offer service-learning opportunities for students. Visit the Office of Service-Learning website for more information about service-learning opportunities at UT Knoxville.

Simulations and gaming/role-playing

Student teaching

  • Student teaching provides candidates with an opportunity to put into practice the knowledge and skills they have been developing in the preparation program. Student teaching typically involves an on-site experience in a partner school and opportunities for formal and informal candidate reflection on their teaching experience.
  • Colleges where student teaching exists: College of Education, Health and Human Sciences 

Study abroad

  • Study abroad offer students a unique opportunity to learn in another culture, within the security of a host family and a host institution carefully chosen to allow the transfer of credit to a student’s degree program.
  • All undergraduate-serving UT colleges offer study abroad opportunities for students. Visit the Office of Programs Abroad for more information about study abroad opportunities through UT Knoxville.

Undergraduate research

  • Undergraduate research is increasingly common at universities across all disciplines. With strong support from the National Science Foundation and the research community, scientists are reshaping their courses to connect key concepts and questions with students’ early and active involvement in systematic investigation and research. The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions.
  • All undergraduate-serving UT colleges offer research opportunities. Visit the Office of Undergraduate Research website for more information about undergraduate research opportunities at UT Knoxville.


  • Volunteering allows students to serve in a community primarily because they choose to do so. Many serve through a nonprofit organization—sometimes referred to as formal volunteering—but a significant number also serve less formally, either individually or as part of a group.
  • UT colleges where student teaching exists: College of Education, Health and Human Sciences