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Assessment Background

The assessment plan for the University of Tennessee QEP provides a detailed approach to the learning process of students engaged in experiential learning. The process includes the use of assessment instruments that measure student learning, a count of experiential learning happening across campus, and feedback on student learning that will lead to an increase in engaged learning.

A notion for learning by experience is not a new concept.  Notable educational analysts, John Dewy and David Kolb, have each laid the groundwork for the importance of experiential learning.  Dewey (1938) contended that students’ potential was hindered by the traditional classroom approach to learning that focused on delivering knowledge and too little on the application of the knowledge.

Kolb’s (1984) theory of learning is influenced by this argument.  Kolb’s experiential leaning model is based on his identification of two ways of grasping experience (concrete experience and abstract conceptualization) and two ways of transforming experience (reflective observation and active experimentation).  His model represents a four-stage learning cycle that was used to develop the four student learning outcomes (SLOs) for the University of Tennessee QEP.  The model is a more holistic approach to learning that emphasizes learning through experiences and helps solidify the learning process through a cyclical method.

The primary goal of the QEP is to enhance students’ development and educational experiences by providing more opportunities for experiential learning.  Experiential learning is most effective when it is a dynamic process in which students engage, apply, collaborate, and reflect on course content and lessons learned.  Since learning occurs at all of these stages and in a continuous cycle, it is important to measure students’ learning and growth through the process.  These stages of experiential learning therefore formed the foundation for defining our desired SLOs.

Our four interrelated QEP SLOs are assessed using specific direct and indirect measures. As a means to support these measurements, a campus-wide assessment of student engagement provides a snapshot of growth and development of experiential learning at the University of Tennessee.  As emphasized through this plan, the ultimate goal of the University of Tennessee QEP is enhancement of campus culture in a manner that values and supports meaningful experiential learning.


References:
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: MacMillan.
Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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