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Experiential Learning Research Opportunities

Last month, LX and BYU hosted three sessions in the BYU/LX Experiential Learning Summit Series. In our last November webinar, we discussed research opportunities and ways to get students involved with experiential learning with panelists Dr. Kerry Laufer (Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth) and Dr. Jason McDonald (Instructional Psychology and Technology, BYU).

The Value of Research

When launching and developing experiential learning programs, we are often utilizing anecdotes and student reflections to highlight the value of our programs. But to gain even more buy-in, research will be the most important measure of how effective experiential learning is. Dr. Kerry Laufer pointed out that reflection activities on the students’ part are common at the end of these programs, but we need to be researching the types of reflection that are the most beneficial to students and professors. Important research trends highlighted by our panelists were the implementation of standards for experiential learning across universities, how to link experiential learning concepts to core classes, and linking outcomes to future workplace success, and these are essential to moving experiential learning forward- these are going to become hot-topic areas to manage the success of our programs. When establishing these programs, it is necessary to designate time and faculty to research these questions and issues so we can begin to improve and scale. Research in these areas doesn’t only give your institutions more incentive to buy-in to experiential learning programs, they also help to sell a vision around setting standards and guides for these programs across the country.

Collaboration in Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is the perfect area for interdisciplinary research, and Dr. Jason McDonald was able to provide some great insight. Outcomes for experiential learning should be broad terms that transcend the classroom- teamwork, creativity, critical thinking-and are key to finding research subjects and partnerships in other programs or areas of your institution. These programs can and will expand beyond the business curriculum in the near future, and joint research with other departments encourages more buy-in and prepares institutions for higher levels of success that can be scaled to other fields and universities.

Interdisciplinary research with other faculty members is important, but students will be your biggest advocates for these programs, and they can be utilized far beyond just providing reflections for research purposes. They can take the outcomes and values they’ve utilized to get involved not only in research, but in conference preparation, media development, and acting as an ambassador for the program- influential voices in conferences, institutional assessments, and publications. Collaboration with students and other faculty members will drive our goals forward and ensure students have tangible experience to take into their careers after laying the foundation for experiential learning programs to grow across the country.

Our next webinar in the BYU/LX Experiential Learning Summit Series will take place on January 15th to discuss how to find and work with internal and external partners for capstones, consulting, and other projects in order to tap funding resources and expand higher learning. Registration links can be found at


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