On Monday, December 6, the Experiential Learning team hosted an event to showcase the accomplishments of students from the SOCS 4501 class, who have been working on sustainability projects since September.
The event also promoted the department’s initiative for every student to benefit from an experiential learning course before their graduation.
What is experiential learning?
Experiential learning is learning through experience. It is often referred to as “learning by reflecting on doing,” Sarah King, Director of Experiential Education says. It is a “…pedagogy that helps students connect academic concepts with first-hand experience through reflection,”.
Experiential learning can benefit students in many ways including enhancing personal, professional, and civil skills. This unique form of learning can help students develop personal and professional networks and can increase academic motivation. Furthermore, King says that experiential learning can help students “…develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and analysis skills,”.
King says that experiential learning is for everyone at any stage of their academic journey. “At UNB, we are working hard to ensure that every student has the opportunity to engage in experiential learning through their degree program, in every faculty and at every level,” she says.
At UNB Saint John, there are over 150 courses that include components of experiential learning in all faculties. UNB is working on “…increasing the number to ensure that all students have an experiential learning opportunity before graduation, in alignment with UNB’s new strategic vision,” King states.
Experiential learning showcase
The Experiential Showcase was held in collaboration with students from SOCS 4501 to show the fruits of their labour from experiential learning.
Kings says that students were able to “…learn project management, community development, and reflection as part of the learning objectives for the course,”.
Jennifer Moore’s project suggested that birdhouses be installed in various spots across campus including the Commons, the community garden, and residences in the “…goal to attract chickadees to be able to create a stronger relationship between nature and the people who use [the] campus”.
One student’s project suggested the building of an aeroponic wall in the new building that will replace the Ward Chipman Library. Their goal was “…to meet some of the [United Nations] sustainability goals by bringing plants indoors,”. Through experiential learning, this student was able to work through trials and errors and although there were many challenges, they came out of the course with a wide variety of skills such as communication and time management.
Cassy Hemphill, a Psychology major, had a project based on food services at UNB Saint John. She noted that although there were good initiatives towards sustainability on campus, food services at UNB were lacking sustainability components. Hemphill says that local food sources need to be a higher priority for the Baird Dining Hall and the Whitebone Pizzeria.
Moreover, she emphasized the importance of healthy foods for students. “A lot of fatty foods like fish, nuts, berries and greens really help to increase brain activity,” she said. She says that experiential learning has helped her further her learning on sustainability, has benefitted in her retail job off-campus, and time and project management.
Students from any faculty are encouraged to enroll in SOCS 4501 to benefit from experiential learning through “project-based opportunities to practice and develop skills,” King says.
Learn more about experiential learning at UNB here.