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Experiential Academics

Brevard College is committed to an experiential liberal arts education that encourages personal growth and inspires artistic, intellectual, and social action.

At Brevard College, education is much more than learning the ‘right answers’ and doing well on a test. Experiential academics develop students’ ability to think, work in a group, and reflect upon and apply their learning to real world problems.

Our classrooms are student-centric. Our classes are problem-based; we use content to tackle important issues rather than just deliver information.

In addition to learning theory, our students apply it to real situations. We cultivate skills through individualized learning and performance, but we also develop our students' abilities to work collaboratively in teams—creating the perfect combination of skills needed for real life situations.

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The Experiential Education Process

Outcomes

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.

  1. Students can identify the qualities and components of an effective mission statement.
  2. Students can review corporate mission statements and evaluate their effectiveness and provide constructive feedback.
  3. Students can write a mission statement for an organization.

Expectations

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.

Experience

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.

Reflection

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?

Conceptualize

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.

Apply

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. 

We create active learning experiences that make learning interesting and applicable.  

We develop students’ knowledge and understanding of a subject.   We engage in focused reflection on their experience to identify learning they may apply to future endeavors.  We don’t teach students what to think, we develop students’ ability to think

An example of our Philosophy

Let’s say that a business class is going to study mission statements.  One option would be for the professor to assign reading and provide a lecture on mission statements for the students, and then the students would take a test showing that they learned the key content.  Another option would be for the professor to set student responsibility for background information and facilitate direct experiences to work with the material.   We believe that this second option helps students really understand the material and use the content, which makes for more meaningful, exciting and memorable learning.

students using bunsen burner Experiential Academics

With this philosophy, the possibilities for learning are endless. 

We learn about a subject in greater depth, with greater understanding, and with better retention.  We learn and refine specific skills. We learn more about ourselves, our values, and how we work with others.  Ultimately, these rich learning experiences open the doors for us to contribute to our communities, translating knowledge into action.

We produce curious, prepared, and highly engaged graduates through hands-on learning experiences.

We don’t just want to tell you the right answer - we teach you how to question and discover the answers for yourself. We don’t want to just put a degree in your hands – we develop your ability and passion for making a difference in the world. We believe in experiential education, and this is reflected in the teaching methods we use in our classrooms.  

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.

Recognized Honors:

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Brevard College is consistently recognized as one of the best liberal arts colleges. The College’s focus on experiential learning, small class sizes, and location the mountains of Western North Carolina near Asheville makes Brevard a top choice college for students around the world.

Brevard College, One Brevard College Drive, Brevard, NC 28712 | 1-828-884-8332
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.