Experiential Education: Learning Through Co-curricular Leadership Experiences - Catherine Salole - SASSY 2014

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Presented at the 2014 Student Affairs and Services Symposium at York University. Without a doubt, student leaders (e.g., peer mentors, residence dons, ambassadors, student union leaders etc.) experience rich learning opportunities that allow them to develop valuable life and workplace skills.

Findings of a qualitative study that used experiential learning
theory to uncover what students learn through participating in
student government will be shared in this session. Reflections from the study’s participants illuminate this presentation and underscore the profound impact that student leadership experiences can have on learning and personal transformation.

Participants will walk away from this session with an
understanding of experiential learning theory, an appreciation
of the rich learning and skill development that occurs as a
result of student leadership experiences, and a road map thatcan be used to re-imagine and assess

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Experiential Education: Learning Through Co-curricular Leadership Experiences - Catherine Salole - SASSY 2014

  1. 1. CATHERINE SALOLE SASSY 2014 JULY 21, 2014 Experiential Education: Learning Through Student Leadership Experiences
  2. 2. 2 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS TODAY, I WILL TELL YOU ABOUT MY RESEARCH… • WHY I DID IT • SOME THEORY • THE RESULTS & STORIES • PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS • QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION
  3. 3. 3 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS LEARNING OUTCOMES By the end of this presentation participants will… • understand experiential learning theory • have a renewed appreciation for the rich learning that occurs as a result of student leadership experiences • be able to use CAS learning and development outcomes • reflect on their student leadership programs and re- imagine them as powerful experiential learning opportunities • agree that Catherine’s kids are adorable 
  4. 4. 4 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHAT DO STUDENTS LEARN IN STUDENT LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCES?
  5. 5. 5 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS SO WHAT? • Outcomes & assessment culture – anecdotal evidence is not enough • Focus on quality student experience – higher education must contribute meaningful results to individuals & communities • Help students in making informed decision re. their involvement • Co-curricular env’t provides a rich source of learning however there is relatively little research
  6. 6. 6 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS WHY STUDENT GOV’T? • Personal interest • Even less research
  7. 7. 7 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Student government is one of the primary areas in which students are given the power to “author their own opportunities and it allows them the place and space to create their own environment like no other on campus”. (Lehr, 2002)
  8. 8. 8 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS RESEARCH QUESTIONS? 1. Do students learn from their experiences in student government? 2. What do they learn? 3. What specific experiences lead to learning?
  9. 9. 9 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS WHAT IS EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING? • Simply…. learning through doing • Popularized by David A. Kolb in 1984
  10. 10. 10 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS ACCORDING TO KOLB…. CONCRETE EXPERIENCE REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION ABSTRACT CONCEPUALIZATION ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION
  11. 11. 11 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS FOR EXAMPLE: learning how to walk…..
  12. 12. 12 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Research Participants • 14 of 18 SA members • 3 execs & 11 program representatives • NB: anonymity & confidentiality
  13. 13. 13 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS The Student Association • “Central” SA of an urban Ontario university • Receive a student levy • Annual budget: ~ $25,000 • Elected and unpaid positions • Main functions: plan community building events and academic representation/advocacy
  14. 14. 14 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Sample Interview Probes 1. What were the most significant experience(s) or major highlights? What did you learn from them? 2. Tell me about some of the challenges or low points during your term? What did you learn from them? 3. What are the successes/achievements that you are most proud of? What did you learn from them? 4. Did you make any mistakes? Have any failures? Experiences that could have gone better? 5. What, if anything, would you do differently if given the opportunity?
  15. 15. 15 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS CAS learning & development outcomes: • Identify the competencies and skills that a student completing an undergraduate degree should acquire • Used as a framework to analyze data • Name 6 Domains (broad categories) where learning should occur • Each domain is further broken down into dimensions • Data analyzed at the dimension level
  16. 16. 16 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS 6 Domains Knowledge acquisition, construction, integration & application Cognitive Complexity Intrapersonal dev’t Interpersonal competence Humanitarian -ism & civic engagement Practical competence
  17. 17. 17 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Results: Learning by Domain 36% 25% 18% 12% 5% 4% Practical competence Interpersonal comptence Cognitive complexity Intrapersonal development Humanitarianism and civic engagement Knowledge, acquisition,construction, integration & application
  18. 18. 18 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Dimensions of Practical Competency 14 14 14 9 9 8 1 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 NumberofParticipants Dimension
  19. 19. 19 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On time management… One of the biggest challenges was to multi-task and prioritize, because on one hand, when you run for a position, you are obligated to fulfill your role, but on the other hand, I came to university to be a student and to achieve an education, and so it’s a really hard balance between fulfilling the obligations that you yourself volunteered for, in addition to sort of fulfilling your student obligations….
  20. 20. 20 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS …Prioritizing was key, realizing that you are only one person, you can only be in one place at a time, I was sort of the yes person for a lot of years of my life, and last year I sort of realized, well, there’s sometimes you just have to say no. And that was a real big growing experience, not just as a student leader, but as a person, it was sort of a really big realization that you can only do as much as you can do. And it doesn’t mean putting in less effort; it’s just means prioritizing where your effort needs to go, that’s all.
  21. 21. 21 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On professionalism… It was a really big test to … be accepting, to be understanding, to be patient, to understand that there is a bigger picture above me, perhaps I wasn’t happy in my position, but at the end of the day, I had a role to fill and that was important to me. Because especially as a senior student, it’s a really bad example … that when things get hard, you give up, that’s not something that I’ve ever lived by
  22. 22. 22 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On career development… [My SA] experience is something I am really proud of. Even in my interviews this is what I will talk about. This will be one of the big things I refer to when asked: “tell me about the time, you showed a little initiative”
  23. 23. 23 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On living a purposeful and satisfying life… [Participating in the SA] helped me personally last year … it gave me a reason to continue, to wake up in the morning and to go on. School itself wasn’t enough to motivate me, and it was difficult, life was pretty difficult and then when I started the position it helped me feel better, it helped me get up in the morning, it helped me accomplish something, and I think that’s really what it was, the feeling of accomplishing something, regardless of what it was.
  24. 24. 24 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Dimensions of Interpersonal Competency 14 13 11 10 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Meaningful relationships Interdependence Collaboration Effective leadership NumberofParticipants Dimension
  25. 25. 25 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On effective leadership… You still have to work with people; you have to do your best to grow the organization. You need to take advantage of all people skills. Sometimes they start out not wanting to do very much, but then in the end they’re very very involved, so trying to get people to see the difference they can make is important.
  26. 26. 26 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On working through conflict… I learned to try and look at the situation from someone else’s shoes. I tried to do that a lot and I think I was successful. Even in conflicts, being able to see the other person’s point of view will help you resolve the conflict and come to consensus much sooner.
  27. 27. 27 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On developing professional relationships… I learned how to interact with other people in an organizational and professional setting compared to the classroom where you interact as just buddies I am better at not letting personal feelings get in the way of professional relationships
  28. 28. 28 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Dimensions of Cognitive Complexity 14 14 7 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Critical thinking Reflective thinking Creativity Effective reasoning NumberofParticipants Dimension
  29. 29. 29 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Interview facilitated the cycle…. CONCRETE EXPERIENCE REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION ABSTRACT CONCEPUALIZATION ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION
  30. 30. 30 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Reflective thinking… If I could do it again, I would think first about the things I say before I say them. I think sometimes when I tried to get my point of view out, I hurt some people along the way. I know that some people felt like I attacked them personally….
  31. 31. 31 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Dimensions of Intrapersonal Development 11 9 2 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 NumberofParticipants Dimension
  32. 32. 32 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On self-understanding… I think that this experience has been really great for me; it’s changed a lot about me. I was a quiet and shy person in high school and now I have a lot more confidence. I am now looking into going into … a profession where I am making a difference and helping others.
  33. 33. 33 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On self-understanding… What I think I’ve come away with from being in the [SA] is learning more about myself and how I work with others. Working with people in a classroom is one thing. Working with volunteers on a student council, helping to better the community … is totally different.
  34. 34. 34 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Dimensions of Humanitarianism & Civic Engagement 8 1 1 0 Sense of civic responsibility Understanding and appreciation of cultural and human differences Social responsibility Global perspective 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Dimension NumberofParticipants
  35. 35. 35 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Dimensions of Knowledge Acquisition, Construction, Integration & Application 7 0 0 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Relating knowledge to daily life Understanding of knowledge from a range of disciplines Connecting knowledge to other kowledge, ideas, and experiences Constructing knowledge NumberofParticipants Competency
  36. 36. 36 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On relating knowledge to daily life… The [SA] allowed me to take what I learned in the classroom, and implement [it] in a setting. So it help in so many ways to help me practice some of the skills I already had such as web design and things like that.
  37. 37. 37 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS On relating knowledge to daily life… I know that I find most meaning in my life … when I’m doing something not for creating a profit or for helping myself, but to help others. So this experience within the [SA] has taught me that … maybe that I might go into politics. I’ve been able to see how changes are made and how beneficial being in a position where you can make changes can be.
  38. 38. 38 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. Do students learn from their participation in student government? 2. What do they learn? 3. What experiences lead to learning?
  39. 39. 39 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS What types of experiences lead to learning? 1. Interactions with others 2. Event planning 3. Managing priorities and stress 4. Reflections on the overall experience
  40. 40. 40 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS Practical Applications • Affirm the value of student leadership positions • to student – development of transferable skills • to student affairs practitioner – keep investing time • to institution – experiential education opportunities • For practitioner • Use/adapt the methodology • Importance of reflection in the learning process • Facilitating learning experiences
  41. 41. 41 Division of Students PARTNERS IN STUDENT SUCCESS
  42. 42. Thank You! Questions? Contact Information Catherine Salole Director, Student Community & Leadership Development York University salolec@yorku.ca 416.736.2100 ext. 66158

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