Experiential Learning takes students beyond the classroom

2012-12-12T14:57:00Z 2012-12-13T12:02:05Z Experiential Learning takes students beyond the classroomLesly Bailey nwitimes.com
December 12, 2012 2:57 pm  • 

HAMMOND | The Northwest ISBDC continues to work with community partners that are impacting the region’s businesses as well as creating innovative connections.

Through Purdue University Calumet’s Experiential Learning program, community partners, students and faculty members are united through their unique experiences.

Students have the opportunity to learn in a real-world environment while being supported by faculty members.

“Students are benefiting by being exposed to hands-on related experience within their fields of study,” said Janice Golub-Reynolds, manager of the program. “This can lead to job opportunities, networking opportunities. I have seen a lot of growth and boost in confidence in students who now have this real-world experience.”

The experiential learning requirement gives students working toward bachelor’s degrees two opportunities for out-of-the-classroom experience.

“We have up to 140 different classes designated as experiential learning on this campus,” Golub-Reynolds said.

She said faculty members have been key to the program’s development since it was just an initial idea in 2005.

“We have a strong faculty-led program. I have to give them kudos for taking the extra time and effort to put these projects into classes or create innovative classes. I always say the experiential learning program begins and ends with faculty members.

“They have done an excellent job in creating opportunities and allowing students and community partners to engage together in these experiences.”

The Community Nursing Practicum is one example of Experiential Learning. It rotates through community settings including schools, shelters and clinics.

Faculty members Dorothy Soverly and Lynn Miskovich guide students who complete health assessments of vulnerable individuals residing within a community and provide health education and interventions based on diagnosed needs. Many of the students go on to work or volunteer for agencies that directly impact these vulnerable populations.

Community partners, which can be businesses and non-profits, not only benefit from student input but also provide a platform to share their expertise.

“They are getting in their work place highly motivated pre-professionals who are learning new concepts, skills and innovative programs,” Golub-Reynolds said.

“Also, community partners serve as mentors.”

Golub-Reynolds has been involved in the program since the beginning and she continues to create and develop ties with community partners.

“The main thing is I help them understand they are partnering with us to help educate students. They become mentors and also become an avenue to provide feedback on what are the expectations regarding an educated work force. It is a two-way street.

“My job is to talk to the community partners and get as much information as possible on what their needs and expectations are and I go back to the faculty and identify the best fit.”

Golub-Reynolds said she sees the continued benefits of the program.

“I have seen a lot of partnerships become ongoing as our program continues to work with the same community partners. They get the student’s energy and new knowledge and those students are backed up by faculty members with experience in that field.”

For more information on the Experiential Learning program, contact Janice Golub-Reynolds via phone at (219) 989-2432 or visit: www.purduecal.edu/exl/

Serving seven counties in the region, the NWI SBDC offers no-cost assistance for entrepreneurs starting or expanding their businesses. Through one-on-one consulting, the NWI SBDC helps guide small businesses toward their goals by offering referrals, workshops, training opportunities and other essential business tools. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Small Business Administration, the State of Indiana and other local partners.

For more information, visit www.nwisbdc.org.

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