What is Experiential Learning?

By George Brown College Modified on February 10, 2020

Learn about the six guiding principles, and the benefits to you, the student!

Students at George Brown's culinary school engage in experiential learning within the school's teaching kitchen.

Well, what is experiential learning?

"Experiential learning" in an umbrella term used to cover all of the opportunities available to students to take part in sector-specific learning experiences. These opportunities can take place in a variety of settings, including workplaces, simulation facilities, labs, shops, and studios in educational, workplace, and practice environments. They are a chance for students to experience their field or industry and learn what's expected of them before graduating. "Work-integrated learning" is a subset of experiential learning that includes things like field placements and co-ops.

Here are some keywords to keep in mind when you're looking for experiential learning opportunities:

Experiential learning keywords: capstone projects, industry or community partners, interactive simulations, on-campus work teaching labs, performance-based learning
Work-integrated learning keywords: applied research projects, apprenticeship, campus incubators, clinical placements, co-ops, field experiences, field placements, practicum placements, service learning

A George Brown College graphic depicting the relationship between experiential learning and work-integrated learning, and listing many keywords to keep in mind when searching.

Six Guiding Principles of Experiential Learning

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) outlines their six guiding principles of experiential learning:

1. The student is in a workplace or simulated workplace.
2. The student is exposed to authentic demands that improve their employability, interpersonal skills and transition to the workforce.
3. The experience is structured with purposeful and meaningful activities.
4. The student applies university or college program knowledge and/or essential employability skills.
5. The experience includes student self-assessment and evaluation of the student's performance and learning outcomes by the employer and/or university/college.
6. The experience counts towards course credit or credential completion OR is formally recognized by the college or university as meeting the five criteria above.

Here's what a partner said about one of our School of Design students:

"Amy was very professional and has a ton of potential. I enjoyed working with her and will continue to hire her on a project to project basis until we can hire a full-time in-house designer. I am also very pleased with the quality of her work and of George Brown for facilitating the internship. I look forward to helping more of your students." – On the Lot Content Accelerator

What are the benefits of experiential learning?

Employers are looking to hire students with practical knowledge and skills. They're looking for graduates who are workplace-ready. That's why we believe in learning by doing, incorporating experiential learning in our programs.

Here are some of the benefits for students:

  • Practical, hands-on experience
  • Develop and hone professional skills
  • Build strong relationships through networking opportunities before entering the workplace.

Watch Our Experiential Learning Video on YouTube

Don't forget, many of our experiential learning opportunities are hosted on GBCareers.

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