Housed within the Office of the Provost’s Teaching & Learning Innovation unit, Experience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational experience for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Tennessee. Specifically, it seeks to enhance students’ development and educational experiences by providing more opportunities for experiential learning.
Experiential learning is an approach to education that emphasizes engaged student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values. Research has shown experiential learning increases the quality and depth of academic study and makes learning more enjoyable and fulfilling for both students and teachers.
Experiential learning is already part of the UT curriculum, but we asked ourselves “what would it look like if we dedicated more time and resources to expanding opportunities?”
How would that be better for our students?
How would that make their degrees more valuable?
The result of pondering those questions is Experience Learning—UT’s initiative to more thoroughly integrate experiential learning into our curriculum and our culture. We believe so strongly in the value of our endeavor that we made it part of our reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Transforming a culture doesn’t happen overnight. Our plan submitted to SACSCOC provides a timeline that extends for five academic years beginning in fall 2015 and ending in spring 2020, with an overview of how the different pieces of the QEP will be phased in over the first year of the plan with the goal of having all components fully implemented in the second year.