Knowledge@Work engages students to think critically and creatively within an experiential learning environment, deepening learning and intensifying the educational impact of the experience.
Through the Knowledge@Work initiative, departments and programs will offer students an array of experiential learning (EL) opportunities reflecting the diversity of the students and communities we serve, the disciplines we teach, and the needs of our region. These opportunities will include internships, undergraduate research, and service learning, all of which are identified by scholars of higher education as “high-impact practices” contributing to student success.
The University expects Knowledge@Work to improve students’ abilities to:
- explain the values and behaviors of professionalism, social awareness, and civic responsibility as the foundation for experiential learning
- use academic knowledge in professional, real-world contexts to prepare them for their chosen career field.
- critically analyze, evaluate, and test academic knowledge in professional, real-world contexts.
Why is experiential learning important?
- Experiential learning teaches students the competencies they need for real-world success.
The public is clamoring for an education that teaches students the competencies they need for real-world success.
Although we can simulate the real world in the classroom and laboratory, authentic experiential learning creates an invaluable opportunity to prepare
students for a profession or career, learn the craft of a fine artist, or discover how the discipline creates evidence to contribute to its body of knowledge.
- Experiential learning motivates students. Experiential learning provides the conditions for optimally supporting student learning. When students are engaged in learning experiences
that they see the relevance of, they have increased motivation to learn. Students are also motivated when they are provided opportunities for practice and feedback.
- Experiential learning creates self-directed learners. Through experiential learning, students are confronted with unfamiliar situations and tasks in a real-world context.
To complete these tasks, students need to figure out what they know, what they do not know, and how to learn it.
This requires students to: reflect on their prior knowledge and deepen it through reflection; transfer their previous learning to new contexts; master new concepts, principles,
and skills; and be able to articulate how they developed this mastery (Linn, et al., 2004).
How does experiential learning work?
Kolb's (1984) cycle of learning depicts the experiential learning process. This process includes the integration of:
- Knowledge - the concept, facts, and information acquired through formal learning and past experience;
- Activity—the application of knowledge to a “real world” setting; and
- Reflection—the analysis and synthesis of knowledge and activity to create new knowledge”
(Indiana University, 2006, n.p.).
How do I qualify my course for EL designation?
Validated experiential learning opportunities (ELO) are the cornerstone of the Knowledge@Work QEP. Supported by professional development (see above), faculty and staff will
present courses and activities through a recognition and qualification process to be coordinated by the QEP Assessment and Review Board. Following qualification as an ELO,
each course or activity will be designated with an appropriate attribute to distinguish it as applicable to the experiential learning pathway and will be highlighted on the institution's
website, online schedule, and relevant marketing material in an effort to enhance awareness.
The QEP Assessment and Review Board will begin the work to develop specific evaluative criteria during the Fall Semester of 2015, and will begin reviewing proposals by Spring Semester 2016.
In drafting these criteria the Board will consider the best practices and principles of experiential education including, but not limited to the following:
- Experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis.
- Experiences are structured to require the learner to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
- Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
- Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
- The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
- Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others and learner to the world at large.
- The educator and learner may experience success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty, because the outcomes of experience cannot totally be predicted.
- Opportunities are nurtured for learners and educators to explore and examine their own values.
- The educator's primary roles include setting suitable experiences, posing problems, setting boundaries, supporting learners, insuring physical and emotional safety, and facilitating the learning process.
- The educator recognizes and encourages spontaneous opportunities for learning.
- Educators strive to be aware of their biases, judgments and pre-conceptions, and how these influence the learner.
- The design of the learning experience includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.
(Association for Experiential Education, 2007-2014)
The application and review process for course qualification will be finalized by mid-semester Fall 2015. Once live, applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis.
How do I get involved with Knowledge@Work?
Dedicated experiential learning liaisons and interested faculty will collaborate in a strategically-crafted professional learning cohort to maximize the strength of experience, expertise, and focused interest. Experiential learning liaisons, representing each of the academic units, will receive annual stipends of $1,000 to oversee, coordinate, and assist with the development and assessment of experiential learning in their area. These individuals will act as Knowledge@Work representatives to the students of their respective programs and as a conduit between their departments and the OEL.
Additional opportunities to support the initiative can be found in service to the institution. The QEP Assessment and Review Board will be comprised of a cross-section of faculty with experience and expertise in academic program assessment and reporting. In additional to functioning as the research and design team for all experiential learning rubrics, the board will evaluate and approve all experiential learning course proposals, and coordinate the data collection and assessment cycle of the QEP. The board will also have final discretion and approval over the budgeted experiential learning grant allocations, as recommended and presented by the QEP Director.
What are my professional obligations regarding experiential learning?
While not all faculty are required to teach EL courses or offer EL opportunities in their coursework, faculty are encouraged to work with the Office of Experiential Learning and their department’s Experiential Learning Liaison to develop and implement EL opportunities that are consistent with the initiative, school priorities, and the institution’s strategic plan.
What resources are available to ensure the success of this program?
In partnership with the academic units, the Office of Experiential Learning will support the creation, adaptation, and qualification of experiential learning opportunities through:
- Support and expertise of experiential learning liaisons,
- Course redesign stipends,
- Faculty and staff development (conference and travel funding, cohort learning, workshops, webinars, etc),
- Seed funding/mini-grants for adapting and creating sustainable experiential learning opportunities (preference will be given to interdisciplinary projects).
What are the experiential learning emphasis areas?
The first experiential learning opportunity to be offered in Fall 2015 is the internship. The institution has adopted the following definition of an internship:
Internships are defined as "supervised work experiences involving an intentional experiential learning strategy, an emphasis on professional development, a performance assessment, and a reflection." Internships are three-way partnerships among:
- Middle Georgia State University
- Internship site
(adapted from Birmingham Southern College QEP)
One of the goals of the internship is for students to acquire information about career paths and to evaluate them using attained academic knowledge, skills and abilities. When students interact more deeply within their chosen field of study, it is essential that they reflect on and analyze their reactions to the out-of-classroom learning experience. Perspectives about their field of study may change during and/or after the internship and an awareness of this perspective change may help shape and define future decisions about academic and professional life.
The institution has adopted the following definition of undergraduate research:
The primary mission of Undergraduate Research is to engage students in investigative and creative activity to experience firsthand the processes of scholarly exploration and discovery. (from Birmingham Southern College’s QEP & Council for the Advancement of Standards Professional Standards for Higher Education, p. 384)
During the Spring 2016 semester, instructors assigned to approved experiential learning undergraduate research courses will meet to review all of the QEP’s student learning outcomes. Necessary changes will be made to the course content in support of these outcomes.
Instructors in approved experiential learning undergraduate research courses will work together to create the common direct assessment for Student Learning Outcomes 4, 5, and 6 and the rubric that will be used to score the assessment.
The institution has adopted the following definition of service-learning:
Service-Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. (from Birmingham Southern College’s QEP & National Service Learning Clearinghouse)
During the Fall 2016 semester, instructors assigned to approved experiential learning service-learning courses will meet to review all of the QEP’s Student Learning Outcomes. Necessary and approved changes will be made to the course content in support of these outcomes. Instructors in approved experiential learning service-learning courses will work together to create the common direct assessment for Student Learning Outcomes 4, 5, and 6 and the rubric that will be used to score the assessment. The instructors will also design the direct and indirect assessments used to measure all of the Student Learning Outcomes.
The assessment and rubric will be piloted in approved experiential learning service-learning courses offered in the Spring 2017 semester.
What is the timeline for implementation?
Click here for the detailed timeline from the QEP report.
What is an Experiential Learning liaison?
Experiential Learning Liaisons, representing each academic unit, will oversee, coordinate, and assist with the creation, promotion, and assessment of experiential learning in their area during the academic year. They will also collaborate as members of a professional development cohort, and will serve on the QEP Advisory Board alongside representatives of the larger community. Each liaison will receive a $1000 stipend for their work and a letter of commendation upon successful completion of the appointment. Service will begin immediately and last through the end of the academic year.
For information on serving as an Experiential Learning Liaison, contace the Office of Experiential Learning at
Your Experiential Learning Liaisons
Knowledge@Work is a quality enhancement initiative for Middle Georgia State University that will begin implementation Fall semester 2015. As designed and publicly affirmed by the SACSCOC Re-Affirmation Visiting Team, this initiative has the power to transform the educational experience for our students in a positive and substantive way. It can also serve as a catalyst to make us a destination institution. In advance of the work before us, we want to personally thank all members of our MGA community for support of this initiative.
Each academic unit has an Experiential Learning Liaison (EL Liaison) that will lead their unit in identifying internship, service learning, and research opportunities for our students. The following individuals will represent their units for the 15-16 Academic Year: