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Experiential Learning Guidelines

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At Knox, experiential learning is an “approach to learning that enhances the traditional classroom experience with interactive applications of theory and practice.” At Knox, we recognize the significant learning that results from reflection upon experience -- in and out of the classroom, between teacher and student, among students themselves, etc. Consequently, many faculty members already build such opportunities into their classrooms. Further, a broad commitment to experiential learning underlies the educational character of the residential experience on campus, as well as athletic and other co-curricular participation.

Within the curriculum, however, the category “experiential learning” is used at Knox in a narrower sense, to refer to learning that occurs through intentional and planned activities outside the traditional classroom which can contribute to professional and/or personal growth. This narrower sense of experiential learning complements classroom learning (some of which may already be “hands-on”) by being less context specific and insular and by making students more self-reliant. Experiential learning at Knox allows students to see interrelationships between personal development, their career interests and their academic and extracurricular experiences.


Transcript indication Completion of the EL goal will be reflected on the student’s EDR and transcript. The EL goal can be satisfied by students with sophomore standing or above.
Planning and reflection are mandatory.

Credit is optional

Satisfactorily addressing the EL goal will require planning and reflection. Students do not have to receive academic credit for satisfying the EL goal, per se. However, experiences that currently earn credit (e.g., internships taken for credit, study abroad, independent research) -- if approved as the activity for EL -- will continue to be credit-bearing and can also be used to satisfy the EL goal. No more than one credit will be granted for a project satisfying the EL goal.
What counts? The experiential learning activity should occur outside the “traditional classroom” which may be defined differently by different disciplines. The key to experiential learning is not the “activity” itself but what the student brings to it, namely:
  1. an intentional plan that embeds the activity in the context of questions about potential career and/or personal growth;
  2. a reflective component when the activity ends.
The potential range of experiential learning activities includes internships, study abroad or other off-campus programs, independent research, community service, teaching assistantships, campus leadership experiences, including student organizations and athletics, tutoring positions, ensemble participation. Other activities may serve as the basis for EL as long as the general conditions are met (more below).
Some regularly offered courses already involve a substantial experiential component (e.g., ART 390 Open Studio, PSYC 300C Clinical Term, THEA 300 Rep Term, ANSO 280-281 Social Service Internship, PS 370 Internship in Public Affairs; PSYC 355 Internship in Psychology). All these may qualify for an EL activity if they meet the 40-hour requirement AND (a) and (b) above occur AND if a faculty or staff sponsor approves.


Finding a sponsor Students will choose a sponsor appropriate to their project; the sponsor should be a faculty or staff member with interests and expertise relevant to the EL project. Internships offered through the Center for Pre-Professional and Career Development will usually be sponsored by staff from that office, and off-campus study projects are sponsored by the program director, where possible. Community service projects may be sponsored by faculty or staff. Independent research projects will be sponsored by faculty. A faculty member must serve as the sponsor of co-sponsor for any EL project that carries academic credit.
Student selects activity, writes proposal, gets sponsor sign-off In consultation with the EL sponsor, the student will select an activity/project as the basis for the EL goal. The student will propose the EL project by providing the sponsor with a written document addressing the following:
  1. a brief description of the EL project/activity
  2. a consideration of the knowledge/skills brought by the student to the activity
  3. reasons for selecting this activity
  4. a description of anticipated learning from the project (e.g., is it a means of career testing? personal growth?)
  5. a consideration of potential challenges or dilemmas the student may encounter
The sponsor will accept or reject the proposal. If it is rejected, the proposal can be altered or another sponsor can be sought.
Implementation and supervision Students are responsible for the initiation and completion of their EL. Sponsors will provide assistance and advice on the development of the EL, but students are responsible for managing the experience on their own, without intervention of the sponsor.
40-hour minimum The experience should be sustained for a minimum of one term for off-campus study or a minimum of 40 hours for all other experiences. The 40 hours need not be completed during one term, and several experiences that total 40 hours are acceptable.
Progress report Students should provide at least one progress report (which can be done orally) to their sponsor during the experience.
Reflective report After the completion of the project, the student will provide the sponsor with a reflective report (this may be done in writing, through a public presentation, through the Experiential Learning Report Form available at the Registrar's office of website, or through another creative medium). The report will include:
  1. a description of what has been learned through the activity (including the student’s personal reactions, difficulties, etc.)
  2. an assessment of whether the student’s expectations were met
  3. an assessment of what has been learned from this activity and its potential application to the student’s academic or personal life
Sponsor approval When satisfied, the sponsor will sign the EL Report form, which is submitted to the Registrar. 
Knox College

Printed on Saturday, November 17, 2018