New funding bolsters hands-on learning

A new program will expand Western’s experiential-learning courses to offer students a broader range of hands-on, for-credit experiences.

Four Experiential Learning Innovation Scholars will be selected from among full- and part-time faculty applicants who, working with students, will design and shape courses that expand the repertoire of community collaborations, industry partnerships and case-based learning.

“It’s exciting because we have a lot of faculty members facilitating really engaging student learning at Western,” said Nanda Dimitrov, Director of Western’s Centre of Teaching and Learning. “This facilitates the expansion of that innovative work.”

A total of $80,000 is available to fund four scholars, each for two years, with the money used to help them and student partners create and equip these courses. The program, through the President’s Strategic Priorities Fund, is made possible through an anonymous donation.

Hands-on learning provides important links among students, the community and real-world issues and ideas.

“Experiential learning allows learners to increase and apply disciplinary knowledge, develop transferable skills, clarify interests and values, strengthen employability and collaborate meaningfully with communities,” Dimitrov said.

The range of new offerings could include case studies, exchanges, co-ops, a studio or performance-based course, field experience, faculty-led or independent study abroad, internship, study project, industry project, internship, lab or real-world simulation.

Faculty members will design these courses to be sustainable, within their faculties, beyond the two years of funding and development. Recipients will be expected to use $5,000 of the funds to support student involvement as course-development partners, with another portion of the funds used for evaluation of course impact.

Interested faculty members should contact Western’s Centre for Teaching and Learning for more details and to apply.