Experiential learning is a key component of St. Edward’s undergraduate General Education. This type of learning engages students outside of the classroom to broaden and deepen their awareness of societal problems and participate in community-based activities that address these issues.
Types of Experiential Learning
- Introductory Experiential Learning exposes students to foundational experiential learning opportunities beyond the classroom.
- Advanced Experiential Learning provides more robust and meaningful experiential learning opportunities with additional engagement required of the student in both time and effort.
Through the Experiential Learning for Social Justice (EL4SJ) mission marker course in the General Education requirement, all undergraduate students will complete at least one introductory experiential learning opportunity. Students may have additional curricular and co-curricular introductory experiential learning opportunities during their time at St. Edward’s.
As articulated in Strategic Plan 2027, 100% of undergraduate students will complete at least one
advanced experiential learning opportunity before graduation. To support this goal over five years, constructing definitions of experiential learning areas and establishing clear criteria for advanced experiential learning across the university is key to overall success.
As a result, St. Edward's has developed five definitions for advanced experiential learning:
1. Internships and Field Experience
2. Research and Creative Works with Faculty
3. Immersive Domestic and International Travel Experiences
4. Service-Learning and Volunteering
5. Student Employment/Leadership On and Off Campus
Internships and Field Experience*
Internships and field experiences are forms of experiential learning that integrate knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skill development in a professional setting. They provide students with the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience, make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths, and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. This includes:
- Internships for credit, not for credit, paid, or unpaid and can be completed within the major.
- Fellowships that provide tuition or aid to support the training of students for a period of time. Usually made by educational institutions, corporations, or foundations to assist individuals pursuing a course of study or research.
- Course-based experiential learning typically involves active field work and in-course professional experiences (ex. consulting, case studies, job shadowing) built into the syllabus and recognized/evidenced by credit earned in the course.
*Adapted from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
Research and Creative Works with Faculty
In undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry, the goal is to involve students with actively contested questions,empirical and/or qualitative observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions. With an emphasis on process, the Council for Undergraduate Research defines undergraduate research as “a mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge.” With faculty guidance, students select a research question and conduct an independent investigation. Students will learn about research methodology, how to search relevant literature and databases within their field of study, craft a proposal or summary of the question, and present their work in written and/or oral form.
Immersive Domestic and International Travel Experiences
Study abroad, either for a year, a semester or a summer, offers students a unique opportunity to learn in another culture and is one way to foster a globally minded perspective throughout St. Edward’s. Domestic travel experiences also invite students to apply what they are learning in the classroom to new environments. Study abroad and domestic travel will challenge students to grow both academically and personally.
Service-Learning and Volunteering
Service learning is distinguished by being mutually beneficial for both students and the community and directly complementary to the coursework. Service-learning is growing rapidly and is considered a part of experiential education by its very nature of learning, performing a job within the community, and serious reflection by the student. Service-learning involves tackling some of society’s complex issues like homelessness, poverty, lack of quality education, pollution, and more. Volunteering is characterized by performing acts of service within the community in pursuit of a more just world.
Student Employment/Leadership On and Off Campus
Student leadership experiences are offered on and off campus through a wide variety of university and partner institutions or organizations that allow for valuable work and life experience. According to NACE, leadership is the ability to “leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others.” This includes:
- Hired and/or elected positions include paraprofessional students hired to provide programming, activities, services and other co-curricular opportunities for student learning and engagement informed by university and departmental mission. This also include selected or appointed students who advocate for constituents, provide leadership and service, and facilitate programs.
- Peer mentorship programs are typically defined by a relationship between students in which one has more experience than the other in a particular domain and can provide support, knowledge, and potential transfer of skills.
- Student employment opportunities are paid roles through a combination of regular hourly jobs, work-study positions, and off-campus Community Federal Work Study Internships.
- Assistantships are a form of paid employment in which students assist a faculty or staff member and perform related duties.
Advanced Experiential Learning Criteria
To achieve rigor through time and effort, an Advanced Experiential Learning opportunity must meet all of the following criteria:
1. Quantitative: 60 clock hours within a semester. Equal to 1 credit or 4 hrs/week for 16 weeks.
2. Intentional: The experience should be purposeful, planned in advance with explicit goals and intended outcomes.
3. Beneficial: Support students’ interests, career readiness, and aspirations.
4. Supervised: The experience should be supervised, including ongoing faculty, staff, supervisor and/or community involvement in all phases.
Advanced Experiential Learning opportunities can be enhanced or further enriched by meeting one or more additional criteria:
- Offer credit hours or financial payment.
- Provide opportunities for reflection.
- Occur in or simulate a "real-world" context as much as possible.
- Present a meaningful challenge to the student.
- Incorporate active learning, with the student an active participant in all stages of the experience from planning to evaluation.
- Enriched, with access to materials, resources, and support systems.
- Opportunity to learn, with adequate time and quality of opportunities.
- Involve the application of concepts/knowledge learned in the student's regular course work.
Austin Impact Internship Preparation
The Austin Impact Internship Preparation connects St. Edward's University students to internships with Austin-area employers as part of the Austin Impact initiative in the Strategic Plan 2027. The goal of this program is to offer students the opportunity to participate in advanced experiential learning and strengthen the community through these local partnerships.
To learn more, schedule an appointment with a career coach.
Blue & Gold Scholars Program
The Blue & Gold Scholars program is dedicated to recognizing St. Edward's University undergraduate student participation in advanced experiential learning opportunities. Fill out this survey and become a Blue or Gold Scholar!
If you completed an advanced experiential learning opportunity as a result of taking an academic course listed here, there is no further action required to become a Scholar. All submissions will be reviewed by a committee of advanced experiential learning supervisors. Students will be recognized as a Blue or Gold Scholar upon approval of their submission(s).
Types of Scholars
- Blue Scholars have completed 1 advanced experiential learning opportunity
- Gold Scholars have completed 2+ advanced experiential learning opportunities
Requirements and FAQs
How many advanced experiential learning opportunities can I submit? There is no limit — please submit as many opportunities as are currently participating in.
Do the advanced experiential learning opportunities need to be completed in the past or can I submit experiences I’m currently completing? You can only submit experiences you are currently completing.
Is there a deadline for submitting my survey? In order to receive a prize, submissions must be sent in by the priority deadline of March 31 (spring semester) or October 31 (fall semester).
How are the Scholars recognized? Students who submit their experiences and are verified this semester will receive the following recognition:
- Entry into Blue, Gold & Beyond the Hilltop: A Student/Alumni Networking Mixer on April 27, 2024 (this includes all graduating seniors who have submitted their experiences at any point during their undergraduate years)
- Graduating Seniors (with 1 AEL completion): Gold cord for graduation
- Graduating Seniors (with 2 or more AEL completions): Entry into raffles to win professional swag
When will I get my cord? Students graduating in May can pick up their cord at GradFest.
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