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Analysis of Experiential Learning Offices in Higher Education and Informational Interview Lynette Henderson Loyola University Chicago

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING Abstract This paper explores experiential learning in the centers of five educational institutions. The institutions researched are DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois; Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; Hamilton College in Clinton, New York; and finally the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago, Illinois. This paper examines the structure, design, staff, student development and emphasis of its


programs. For the sake of brevity, the most developed experiential learning program is discussed in depth. An end synthesis summarizes my understanding of the current state of experiential learning in higher education with the help of an interview with Ms. Lauren Jackson, of the MCA.

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING DePaul University The Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning & Community


Service Studies at DePaul University has its roots in the Vincentian tradition of the institution. The Steans Center is housed within the academic operations side of the university, and helps to develop Service-Learning courses (both domestic and international) and certain internships. The university provides community service opportunities—most of which are not affiliated with the Center. They offer the following experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students: o Service-Learning courses o International Service-Learning courses (Mexico, Puerto Rico, Kenya and Italy) o Community Service o Internships (paid and unpaid) Service-Learning courses are organized and planned by faculty with the help of the Center, which offers formal Faculty Development. Professors have the ability to decide whether the service component will be required or optional within their course. Although optional service is “frowned upon” by the administration, it is a viable option. Once the commitment to service is decided upon, students are mandated to complete their respective projects. University administration is clear in the communication of their vision for students to be committed to service and community involvement. Within the courses, 20-25 hours of service are required per quarter. The University acknowledges that Junior Year Experiential Learning of less than twenty hours translates to a low return on investment for community partners. The Steans Center supports the following community service models, which all have specialized programs and outreach partners both internal and external: o Direct Service o Project-Based Service o Community-Based Research—supported in part by the John J. Egan Urban Center

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING To this end, a dedicated support staff has been assembled to offer the much needed leadership and development within all areas of the program. They include the following: o Student Development Coordinator of Steans Center o Associate Director of Steans Center* o Assistant Director for Faculty Development o Assistant Director for Academic Development o Program Coordinator for Community Service Scholarship o Site Managers (2, for Jumpstart Program at DePaul) o Executive Director of the Steans Center* o Director of the Community Service Studies Program* o Assistant Director for Course Placement* o Community Internship Coordinator o Program Coordinator o Service Learning Course Evaluator o Business Manager *faculty held position There do not appear to be any undergraduate support or leadership positions offered. When assessing the information available via online research, quite a few student development outcomes are revealed. The university’s offering of community service as well as reciprocal service-learning make clear the community and student benefit of both options. The focus on time commitment and reflection develops students as more complex thinkers. They are encouraged to live and serve ethically, which also adds moral depth to their development. Inherent in the distinct naming of the programs is the University’s acknowledgement of


difference between community service and service-learning. To extend coverage within the area of service, since 1994 the University has housed the Monsignor John J. Egan Urban Center, which invests in programming to aid underprivileged neighborhoods. Though volunteer opportunities for students are not connected with in-class enrichment, they do appear to be well developed job-like community involvement. Program types (i.e. research, policy or data analysis, community building, and contract evaluations) allow students to link real-world experience with the skills gained in the classroom.



The Egan Center’s attention to research as volunteerism brings one to wonder what kind of reflection component is housed within the experience. There is a great deal of attention paid to inclass reflection and facilitation (pre-, during, and post-experience), but there are no details readily available to give insight to the design of reflection within the volunteer experience. DePaul is dedicated to teaching, research, and public service. Their purpose as an institution is to education students to be lifelong, independent learners. They encourage faculty, staff and students to apply their expertise in ways that contribute to societal, economic, cultural and ethical quality of life in and beyond the community. The religious values of the University encourage sensitivity to and care for the needs of each other and those served. Service programs are intertwined in the mission of the Institution and seem to be highly supported by students, faculty and administration. University of Wisconsin-Madison The Morgridge Center for Public Service at University of Wisconsin-Madison is much the hybrid of academic and student affairs. It offers three categories of experiential learning. They are Service-Learning Courses, Community University Exchange and External Internships. Part of what makes the Center unique is its five discrete types of service-learning courses; they are as follows: o o o o o Discipline-based Project-based/consulting Capstone Service Internship Community-based research

Within all service-learning experiences, students are required to research in order to prepare for their respective roles as service-learners. The reflection component is in tact within the course. Credit is gained not by service or quality of service, but for demonstration of academic and service learning. At least twenty-five hours of service are required. The University supports and

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING encourages students by offering bus passes and free cab rides via the Volunteer Transportation Program. Students are encouraged to become leaders and active participants in their learning experience. Grants are available for research and faculty partnerships are encouraged. Due to this contemporary format of curriculum design/planning, the service-learning


programs and activities can be implemented by either students or faculty. This is especially helpful within the cognitive development of the individual. The Morgridge Center is supported by three positions—Faculty Director, Associate Director, and Community-Based Learning Coordinator. Students are expected to hold roles within fellowships and partnerships. In reading through the process of course design and implementation, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that the students here are active stakeholders and hold, in a sense, rotating faculty and staff positions as they co-facilitate with their peers and professors. The University’s mission emphasizes public service and the quality of life improvement for all. Service experiences apply to this goal in that they “help students to develop an understanding and appreciation for the complex cultural and physical world they live in”. In living this mission, the University is embracing Kohlberg’s theory of moral development through in-depth reflection (as cited in Jacoby, 1996, p. 63). No matter what the academic outcome or specific type of experiential learning, the purpose of the learning experience is to advance to more complex and abstract moral reasoning. Hamilton College The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton College is an academic center housed on-campus for the university’s undergraduate students. As such, all programs are organized around three themes—inequality and equity, security, and sustainability. Each theme has its own program

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING that houses certain options for student involvement. Their offerings include the following programs: o o o o o Service-learning Student-faculty Research Community-based Research (can be undertaken in courses or independent studies) Public Service Internships Study Abroad


The Center is staffed by a Director, Assistant Director, and Administrator and Service Learning Coordinator. Faculty makes up the Levitt Council as Program Directors and leaders. Students are encouraged to take on leadership roles and find outlets to invest their time and academic growth in the community. Program implementation is largely initiated by the student and as a result, campus civic involvement appears to thrive. Perry’s view of intellectual and ethical development is largely at work here (as cited in Jacoby, 1996, p. 59). Faculty and staff expect students to experience their preconceived notions and test them against what they observe in egothreatening situations. In addition, students are expected to seek then embrace dissonance and explore the meaning within their everyday experiences. The mission of the University is to foster academic excellence and the development of students as responsible citizens in a diverse world. Their strategic plan is to clear in its intention to “engage with the world”. Clear is their intention to compensate faculty based on service as well as teaching and research. In addition, their goal is to increase opportunities for student research and presentation. By engaging students, the university positions itself to support initiatives that encourage civic engagement and partnerships with the community while adding rigor to the undergraduate curriculum. Roosevelt University

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING Roosevelt University Chicago Campus offers experiential and transformative learning resources through its Career Center and the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation. The most diverse offering of opportunities is through the Office of Career Development (OCD), which offers the following: o Service-learning o Study Abroad o Internships


It appears that service-learning courses are designed and implemented by faculty—service is an option, not a requirement. Their courses are then publicized by the OCD and Mansfield Institute as transformational learning opportunities. Internships are student initiated and most commonly have root in the OCD. Study Abroad programs are housed under the International Studies Office or certain schools and are the result of incredible collaboration between the University and partners within as well as outside. Faculty-led international studies programs are offered but are never more than one week in duration. The Center is staffed by an Administrative Secretary, two Career Counselors, the Director of Career Development, Student Placement Specialist, the Assistant Director of Employer Relations and Internships and a Chief Office Clerk. There is one position for a Student Assistant. One might note the lack of an educational position within the office. Within Roosevelt’s structure, there is a clear focus on justice and consciousness, but the student’s role to this extent is quite unclear. There is great space for development through service and experiential learning, especially with the amount of attention paid to social issues. However, the emphasis on the student is unclear. One is able to infer that the objectives of courses are clear, and that student-faculty communication is optimal but there is a lack of proof and a well-noted lack of public student leadership.

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING The University places a great deal of emphasis on social justice and consciousness; responsible citizenship; living and learning communities; and being a catalyst in the community through academics and strategic alliances. Experiential and transformational learning are the energy within this process. Museum of Contemporary Art The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) offers the following experiential learning programs: o o o o o o o o o Tours Artist-led (grades 1-12) Off the Beaten Path (grades 5-12) Creation Labs (grades 3-12) Teacher Development Open houses Workshops The MCA Creative Agency Cooperative education programs


The MCA’s tours are initiated by teachers, while teens apply to be part of the Creative Agency, the service-learning program of greatest interest here. They have the option of applying for servicelearning credit as secured by their school. The program has been approved by Chicago Public Schools because it met three types of service standards: o Art, cultural organizations o Education, children, adult literacy o Community, neighborhood development and improvement The learning outcomes are clear and expect students to first uncover their worldview and to do so through art and its interpretation. Students are encouraged to seek out their identity, embracing Kolb’s Reflective Observation (RO) stage in the learning cycle and they are prodded into Abstract Conceptualization (AC) (Kolb, 1984). Their life experiences and preconceptions are acknowledged through art as a developmental tool.

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING The program description and design of implementation are set out below in a summary


gracefully given by Elena Goetz, Manager of Youth & Family Programs. The model given is that of 2011, but will remain for the incoming cohort. As the most immersive program, its implementation is incredibly focused and lends itself to a great deal of student development attention. As one will see described in the following overview, the program is incredibly detailed and focused on student development. The Program The Creative Agency extends over two years. Members of The Creative Agency commit to successive 5-month sessions: TCA 1, TCA 2, TCA 3, and TCA 4 (pronounced ‘tech-a’). At the end of each TCA, Lead Artists, Jason Pallas and Carron Little and each member discuss their progress, commitment and goals for the next TCA. The Creative Agency Members meet each week on Saturday [for 3 hours], from 1:30 – 4:30 pm. The first day of the program is Saturday, September 10, 2011. During each TCA, members also spend one work-week day at the MCA during special day-long sessions that allow enhanced interaction between MCA staff, weekday audiences, and teens. Members will also be guests of honor at The Creative Agency Launch Party on Tuesday, October 25 from 4:30-5:30 where MCA Staff will get to meet all the members and together converse. Members may also be invited to select performances, or other events, that take place outside of the Saturday hours. The MCA is primary site for the program with once-monthly field trips to other arts organizations, exhibitions, galleries, etc. These visits will be determined by Jason and Carron and the members. Communication of these trips will come from Jason and Carron both in person and via text message.



Rigor and commitment are cornerstones of The MCA Creative Agency. Clear expectations will be regularly and explicitly communicated to each member. The program offers teens preestablished incentives at certain milestones set by the Jason and Carron, museum staff, and the members. The schedule consists of three TCA’s (5-month sessions), with the option to repeat the third TCA. To note: some dates may shift and there will be some weeks when the program does not meet each 5-month session. Dates for these weeks will be clearly communicated to each member. As in Montessori programs, beginning and advanced members all are part of the same cohort. The Lead Artists provide individualized guidance and encourage peer-to-peer learning. Each TCA addresses all three concrete skills, with a stronger emphasis on one skill over each TCA: • • • Critical interpretation Public Speaking Cultural participation

Program Structure (Figure 1) Meets weekly, on Saturdays, 1:30- 4:30, at MCA Chicago with monthly field trips to other organizations and artist studios. Program is co-led by Lead Artists, Jason Pallas and Carron Little. Frequent sessions are facilitated with MCA artists and staff.



Figure 1. Program Structure of the Creative Agency TCA 1: September 2011- January 2012 Critical Interpretation TCA 2: February 2012June 2012 Public Speaking Members interpret their world through looking, talking and art making, and by using contemporary art as a resource. Members will: -Identify their own interests and questions and use these to create art projects in a range of art forms -Use works of contemporary art made by others to inform their own critical and creative process -Observe and describe what they see in works of art made by others -Understand how art work is produced/ made - Research works of art - Begin to place contemporary art in the context of what is going on in the larger world -Participate in conversations and constructive feedback with peers, and artists TCA 3 (repeatable): August 2012– January 2013 February 2013 – June 2013 Cultural participation

Members build on the first session by channeling their new interpretation skills into learning to tell stories about art. Members will: - Use MCA artworks and each other’s artworks as focus for research and learning to talk about art - Learn to interpret art in relation to an audience - Understand the importance of bodily presence, i.e. standing confidently in front of a group of people -Experiment with ways of publicly and verbally communicating ideas -Experiment with techniques used to engage others and draw people in with their own ideas -Build confidence and conviction

Members make their ideas public and participate in making programs happen at the MCA. Members will: - Prepare and lead gallery talks about 2-3 works of their choice on view at the MCA, telling their own imaginative, wellresearched stories about these works to MCA visitors - Plan sessions with other arts organizations, working with young people and staff at those organizations -Conceive, plan and execute a major culminating public event for other young people, from start to finish, working with MCA staff from many departments - Help recruit new group members, and advise on program development



(E. Goetz, personal communication, February 15, 2012) The department is staffed by a Coordinator of School Programs, Manager of Youth and Family Programs, and Lead Artists and the program is offered by the education department. The Museum’s overall mission is to “engage a broad and diverse audience, create a sense of community and be a place for contemplation, stimulation, and discussion about contemporary art and culture”. The integration of art in and through learning is critical to this mission. The rigor and in-depth reflection required of the teens is a statement to the use and benefit of experiential learning not only in higher education, but also within the arts. This are deserves thought in the way that it shapes students for future institutions of higher learning. Synthesis In my effort to review experiential learning programs in higher education, I found that many institutions do not make their developmental process clear. Online research does not always get to the details of how courses are structured, who initiates them and how they are assessed. It is very easy to get a faculty-sided view of the process and lose out on the nuances that affect the student’s experience. It appears that student interest is already present. There is a great deal of resources speaking to how faculty can appropriately facilitate reflection, or how to incorporate service in the classroom. This may well speak to the hesitance of faculty to utilize service in the classroom as a learning tool. One may read the literature on high-impact strategies and their effective implementation, but it is easy to overlook the surprising amount of resistance that is encountered in practice. The analysis seems to speak loudly to the effectiveness of experiential, high-impact learning practices.

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING However, it seems that not enough attention is given to overcoming the obstacles to making it status quo with students and faculty. Perhaps the resistance is due to the natural comfort within


paternalistic education models. In interviewing Ms. Lauren Jackson, it became clear that there was administrative support of active learning. Perhaps more aggressive administrative support of experiential learning in higher education will yield the results that authors seem to be advocating for in their research on effective practices.



Interview: Lauren Jackson, Coordinator of School Programs for Museum of Contemporary Art. (L. Jackson, personal communication, February 15, 2012) Lauren Jackson: I work as a liaison between schools and the MCA, helping to bring students here to experience a tour led by practicing artists, driven by inquiry and discussion based questions. Our Artist Guides are all teaching artists as well, with a background in Education and classroom experience. We work closely with the schools in our district to ensure a creative experience for the students, making sure that it is still relevant to their lives and the art of our time. For our Chicago Public Schools we offer a free bus for the visit to the museum, coordinated by me. This is unique to the MCA and what makes our programs very accessible for CPS students. Every year we select a high school to do a year-long residency in. We choose an Artist Guide to work specifically with that school and one teacher, to lead the selected students through Arts education programs such as school visits to the MCA, hands on creative work in the classroom with our Artist Guide, and workshops for the teacher to know how to implement contemporary art into their classrooms. Offerings for teachers: We offer Educator Open Houses, which are a chance for teachers and administrators to come to the MCA and experience an Artist Led tour, much like the ones that we give to their students. This gives them a chance to preview the exhibitions beforehand and to possibly sign their students up for some tours here. Types of tours we offer for schools: Creation Lab: inquiry led discussion based tour of the galleries with a studio making component that follows. 3rd-12th grade Off the Beaten Path: 90 minute discussion tour offering with a writing component 5th-12th grade Artist-Led tour: inquiry led discussion based tour for all grade levels 1-12th held in the galleries To answer your questions… I arrived at my current position through an internship in administration, saw an opening in Education so I applied for it. The rest is history. Normal day for me: prep work for tours 8-9:30 including making sure all Artist Guides scheduled to come in will do so (I have 14 Artist guides that I work with throughout the tour season) Calling school and bus companies to make sure the students are coming; 10am-12noon see around 150 students for school tours at allotted times

Running Head: ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING Noon to 1 answering teachers request for field trips 1-3 paperwork/budgeting and creating check requests for my Artist Guides (I’m responsible for their payment)


3-4 or 5 preparing for the following day’s tours, making sure that all teachers that came to tours today receive our student pass (allowing the students to come back with their families for free) and preparing for any upcoming Educator events. Advice: Do an internship. Even if it’s an unpaid one because the experience you gain is invaluable. Make connections and network via your internship so that you have people to call upon for advice and mentoring. Makes a difference also when you are applying to positions if people see that you have a great reference from one of their education colleagues. Essential skills: Always think of the next step, stay on the move, pay great attention to detail and have a great attitude for your students Most challenging aspects: Having so many things to remember and juggling at once can be very tedious and exhausting. The job is high pressure. Most rewarding: The look on students faces after they have had a great tour. And the thank yous I receive from teachers and students alike, telling me how grateful they are for the opportunity and how much they enjoyed themselves. I also truly enjoy working with talented practicing artists.



DePaul University Irwin W. Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning & Community Service Studies. Retrieved from Hamilton College Arthur Levitt Public Service Center. Retrieved from Jacoby, B. & Associates. (1996). Service-learning in higher education: Concepts and Practices.SanFrancisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Retrieved from Roosevelt University Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation. Retrieved from Roosevelt University Office of Career Development. Retrieved from University of Wisconsin-Madison Morgridge Center for Public Service. Retrieved from

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