BW’s New Experiential Learning Requirement

Baldwin Wallace University recently added a new Experiential Learning Requirement to its graduation requirements. The fresh addition to the University catalogue went into effect as of this academic year.
Guy Farish, the interim Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, explains that in order to fulfill this requirement, students must participate in a minimum of 30 hours of meaningful experiential learning activities.
Michael Gilbert, the Director of Core Curriculum in Academic Affairs, emphasized that this is a new graduation requirement, not a core requirement. Because it is a graduation requirement, it does not have to be credit bearing. There are several ways to fulfill this requirement.
Whether students receive academic credit will depend on how they decide to satisfy this requirement.
Though this new requirement might initially seem strange to some students, students should not be alarmed by the additional requirement. The development and implementation of Experiential Learning here at BW has been faculty approved and many institutions like BW have added similar requirements in their catalogues.
There are a number of pre-approved courses students can take in order to fulfill this requirement and receive academic credit at the same time. These courses can be found on BW’s catalogue in WebExpress, designated as Experiential Learning modules.
“Experiential learning has always been a strong part of a BW education,” Farish said. The pre-approved courses are not new to the BW catalogue; experiential learning activities have already been embedded into BW’s curriculum prior to this requirement. Such experiences include internships, student teaching, enhanced recitals, clinical experiences and numerous others.
If students choose not to take a course that fulfills the Experiential Learning requirement, there are still many opportunities to fulfill the requirement outside of courses via their own individual experiences.
Students will also be able to consult full-time faculty members to guide them through their experience. This avenue may not necessarily result in academic credit for the students, but depending on what experiences these students choose, credit may still be awarded. For example, students may fulfill this requirement through study abroad, service learning, leadership development or undergraduate research opportunities.
Students must complete a number of important criteria in order to meet this experiential learning requirement. In addition to the minimum 30 hours of work students must participate in, students must also write a reflective essay about their experience connecting it to what they have learned in the classroom and focusing on their personal development.
Finally, the experiential learning opportunity must meet two of the additional four criteria, which include: helping to build substantive relationships, helping to engage across differences, providing the student with rich feedback, and enabling the student to apply and test what they are learning in new situations.
The full informational sheet on the experiential learning requirement can be found under the “Academics” tab on the Blackboard site.
The Experiential Learning Requirement is a “guaranteed opportunity,” said Dr. Ana Boe, Associate Academic Dean.
Because BW students tend to be extremely involved in opportunities like this, the majority of students would already satisfy this requirement. This new change will provide an extra incentive for students to get involved and gain invaluable experience, which will not only prepare them for the working world they will enter after graduation, but enable them to grow into the leaders of the future.