Study suggests experiential learning provides increased student engagement along with higher workload

October 30, 2014

A new report released by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has found that courses that incorporate experiential learning with community organizations resulted in higher student engagement and better outcomes, but they also created more work for students and instructors. The study, conducted by researchers at York University, examined a variety of introductory and upper-level courses that made use of community service learning (CSL), community-based learning (CBL), and other in-course learning activities (ICLA) such as role playing, skits, guest speakers, case studies, and laboratories. Students reported improved engagement with the materials and a recognition of strong educational outcomes, but they also rated CSL and CBL courses lower than ICLA courses due to “increased workload and a lack of clarity on the goals and standards of the course.” Faculty involved in the study reported increased workloads, but recognized that the courses “offered a deeply rewarding and personally transformative student learning experience.” The report’s authors suggest that institutional supports and incentives for faculty can help alleviate some of the increased workload and can help them establish and maintain community partnerships. HEQCO Summary | Full Report