EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: Faculty in every academic department at the College believe strongly that you learn by doing. So, to study science means doing some science in the laboratory or in the field. And understanding art comes from creating or producing it. Each of the social sciences and humanities would make a similar claim. In the most general sense, that's what experiential learning is about -- learning by doing.
We give "learning by doing" a special place in the Knox curriculum through the experiential learning goal. All students must have at least one substantial encounter with experiential learning of their own making, one where they apply their education. That is, in addition to what might routinely be included in a class, you need to think about a substantive out-of-class experience through which you can explore either career aspirations or personal growth. Do you want to work in business, law or medicine? Do you want to be an educator? How about politics or social work? Or a career in a research laboratory? Do you function most effectively as part of a group or working alone? Do you like to interact with the public? Internships, conducting research, working in a political campaign office or in a bank -- the range of what you could do is almost limitless. Depending on what you have in mind, the Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development is worth a visit early on to begin to explore possibilities. Or your advisor or one of your professors in your intended major can give you an idea of what you might do.
What makes a project suitable for the experiential goal is your ability to pursue it intentionally. That is, we want you to think in advance what the experience might teach you, and to reflect on it when it's over. It's the planning and reflection that ensure that you'll achieve experiential learning. For example, a student intending a career in business could visit the Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development and might obtain an internship with a local bank or company. Before embarking on the internship, the student would propose an agenda -- what does he or she hope to learn through this experience? And after the experience, the student would have to reflect in writing on the experience -- what was actually accomplished? What was learned? Did the experience have an impact on future plans at Knox and beyond?
Another student considering a career in theatre might take advantage of Knox's Repertory Term, where students register for three credits for a 10-week experience in both technical theatre and performance, culminating in two productions performed on alternate nights during the last week of the term. Before Rep Term begins, the student would propose an agenda, a set of questions that will guide their reflection while on Rep Term. After the term ends, the student would reflect in writing on the experience.
There is no restriction on what kind of "experience" can serve as the basis for meeting the experiential learning goal. You might choose an experience through which you earn credit, but that is not required. Again, what makes an experience appropriate for the goal is your ability to articulate an agenda prior to the experience that speaks to its potential impact on your professional and/or personal growth, and to complete a written reflection when the experience is complete. You'll need a sponsor who will agree to support your use of this experience to meet the goal and who will discuss both your agenda and reflection with you. The sponsor might be a faculty member or a staff member from the Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development.