Experiential Teaching and Learning that Inspires Action
Brevard College is committed to an experiential liberal arts education that encourages personal growth and inspires artistic, intellectual, and social action.
Brevard's approach to education is much more than learning the ‘right answers’ and doing well on a test. Faculty develop students’ ability to think, work in a group, and reflect upon and apply their learning to real world problems.
Classrooms are student-centric and problem-based. Faculty use content to tackle important issues rather than just deliver information.
In addition to learning theory, students apply it to real situations. Faculty cultivate skills through individualized learning and performance.
Faculty also develop our students' abilities to work collaboratively in teams—creating the perfect combination of skills needed for real life situations.
Best Undergraduate Teaching
The Experiential Education Process
The professor develops student goals or outcomes and will create expectations for the class to set the group up for success in accomplishing the goals. Students know the purpose of what they are doing and why it is important. Here are the goals for a class on mission statements.
- Students can identify the qualities and components of an effective mission statement.
- Students can review corporate mission statements and evaluate their effectiveness and provide constructive feedback.
- Students can write a mission statement for an organization.
Students will read a background chapter and articles on mission statements and have a few critical questions to answer in order to get their minds engaged in the content. Students bring their work and questions to class and are ready to discuss their learning from the reading. The class is organized and expectations are set in a manner that students can be productive during group work and challenge one another in the learning process.
The professor structures a discussion on the key points on effective mission statements in the reading. The professor can assess how well the students understand the core content by reviewing individual answers and by the quality of the discussion. Students are encouraged to ask questions and challenge assumptions to aid in their understanding of the fundamentals. The students are involved in an activity to review and evaluate mission statements. First, the group will evaluate examples of well written mission statements and identify the key components. Next, the group will evaluate mission statements that could use improvements, and the group will identify positive aspects of each mission and areas for improvement. In small teams, the group works to revise a mission statement and share their work with the group.
The professor will process the experience along the way asking questions that helps the students reflect. For example, the professor may ask questions like: What do you notice about this set of mission statements? What did you think or feel about the organizations when you read them? Does this help you clearly understand the organization?
As a result of the reflections, the group will develop key concepts and points of learning. For example, the class may determine that a mission statement needs to be concise in order for it to be memorable for a company’s employees to understand and use it.
With the key concepts and points of learning, the students then embark on an experience to apply the learning. Students will write a mission statement for a group or organization in which they belong and evaluate the effectiveness of that mission statement over the course of the semester.
What Does Experiential Learning Look Like at Brevard College?
The Voice of the Rivers (VOR) program offers students an opportunity to paddle and study a river from source to sea and foster a sense of stewardship and community.
Brevard College is a founding member of Reacting to the Past. In this role-playing game set in a particular historical time period, students are assigned roles which are supported by classic texts. Classes are then run by students playing these roles while instructors advise and guide students.
Brevard students (as early as their freshmen year) can contribute to, edit, and produce the student newspaper The Clarion and literary magazine Chiaroscuro. Students can also publish their original work or serve as editorial assistant in the Pisgah Review, a national literary journal that is edited and published by Brevard faculty and students.
Environmental studies students work with and learn from nearby sustainable agriculture professionals and intern with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and State Forest Service Professionals.
Math students use motion detectors in Calculus labs to relate position and velocity graphs and use MAPLE, MATLAB, and Geometer’s SKETCHPAD software in appropriate math classes and labs.
Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education Immersion Semester students plan, develop, and lead a 21 day wilderness expedition to develop their technical outdoor skills and leadership and teaching competencies.