New office supports students’ experiential learning activities

Story by Michelle Hawks, Contributing writer

The university has developed the Office of Experiential Learning,  EDGE, to support students’ pursuit of experiential learning opportunities, such as research and study abroad.

Duncan said EDGE surprisingly does not stand for anything – it was just the name give to the office during the proposal stage.

“It gives us that edge,” she said.

Currently, the office does not have a physical location. However, Renae Duncan, associate provost for undergraduate education, said the offices involved meet to discuss experiential learning and opportunities for students.

She said EDGE will primarily include people from pre-existing offices; however, there will also be an advisory board consisting of community members, professors and students.

“The office will just allow us to synergistically build upon each other, and it will provide a centralized place for students to go if they have questions about it or want to learn more,” Duncan said.

The office includes information about Education Abroad, Study Away, the Office of Research and Creative Activity, Service Learning and  internships and co-ops.

Study Away, a program similar to Education Abroad, allows for students to attend and do research at another college in the United States.

Duncan said although Student Affairs will not be located in the office, they will be working closely with the department to make more leadership opportunities available.

She said they will also continue to work closely with professors across campus to incorporate experiential learning into classes.

Duncan said there is no current timeline for when they will be able to move into a physical location.

Amanda Joyce, assistant professor of psychology, said she works experiential learning into each of her classes.

I believe that experiential learning is important because it allows students to move from simply memorizing the material to interacting with it in real-world settings,” Joyce said.

She said she is especially proud of  is happening right now in her Lifespan Development course where students are doing research and purchasing toys for children in local childcare facilities. They will deliver the toys later this month.

I hope that, by doing this project, students will not only better learn the course material but that they will also learn that their knowledge of developmental science can help them to help those around them,” Joyce said. “It’s icing on the cake that we have the opportunity to make some kids smile along the way.