Why Experiential Learning Matters
MIT boasts many Experiential Learning (EL) programs ranging from credit-bearing courses, undergraduate research, venture incubators, global internships, public service opportunities, and more. It is an essential part of an MIT education, baked into our institutional motto (mens et manus) and MIT’s long history of “learning by doing.” Research shows the critically important outcomes of EL, including but not limited to (a) higher-order thinking skills, (b) communication skills, (c) ability to work effectively with others, and (d) subject-specific learning outcomes (Coker et al., 2017).
We know that EL is critical to students’ academic experiences; yet at MIT, the decentralized nature of EL programming makes it difficult to see the full picture of who is– and perhaps more importantly, who is not– participating in and benefitting from these programs.
Proposed Research Phases
The group recommended the following three-phase approach to better understand the student experiential learning landscape. Phase I, which is currently in progress, consists of a two-pronged quantitative and qualitative approach, combining the collection and analysis of program characteristics and participant demographics with student focus groups.
|Phase||Focus & Research Questions||Timeline|
|Phase I||Determine if there are differences in participation rates in experiential learning programs
||AY23 and AY24|
|Phase II||Determine if there are differences in outcomes in experiential learning programs||AY24+|
|Phase III||Develop strategies for addressing any areas of concern||AY23 and AY24+|
As a result of conducting Phase I, OEL will be able to identify differences in participation rates in experiential learning programs. Phase II will focus on determining if there are differences in outcomes in experiential learning programs. Phase III will focus on developing strategies for addressing any areas of concern as they are identified, piloting low-cost strategies based on Phase I data, and subsequently using Phase II data and ongoing participation data analysis to inform larger-scale interventions and future iterations.
Ad Hoc Group Membership
- Francis Borrego, Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD)
- Sebastien Delisle, Sloan Action Learning
- Libby Hsu, D-Lab
- Rea Lavi, NEET
- Jim Magarian, Gordon Engineering Leadership program (GEL)
- Melissa Martin-Greene, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)
- Mary McCrossan, Scheller Teacher Education Program (STEP)
- Rebecca Roseme Obounou, Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center (PKG)
- Seckin Ozdamar, Sandbox
- Maria Segala, MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI)
- Lauren Tyger, Office of Innovation, Co-chair
- Kate Weishaar, Office of Experiential Learning (OEL), Co-chair
As of October 2023, a report on the first round of data collection has been written and planning is ongoing for the next phase of data collection to be completed during the 2023-2024 academic year.