Experiential Learning and New Institutionalism in Ontario Higher Education: A Qualitative Analysis of the Experiential Learning Certificate at the University of Waterloo
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Recent events in the field of higher education have resulted in experiential learning becoming an institutional priority in many post-secondary institutions. In Ontario, the Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel recommended expanding experiential learning opportunities for post-secondary students (2017). This is coupled with other sources, such as Canada’s Business Higher Education Roundtable, which suggested that all post-secondary students have at least one experiential learning opportunity by graduation (2018). Experiential learning builds on traditional instructional approaches and fosters engagement between students and course material in non-traditional settings. This thesis presents the findings of a case study, which investigated a particular institution’s response to pressures from the organizational field to expand experiential education. The Experiential Education Certificate allows students at the University of Waterloo to engage in a variety of course-based and extra-curricular experiential learning opportunities. This case study relied on qualitative interviews, and content analysis of both obtrusive and unobtrusive documents. Through the combination of semi-structured interviews with instructors, members from the Centre for Teaching Excellence, and members of the EDGE team, I found that this particular program represents a more ceremonial response to organizational pressures, and had not meaningfully penetrated the technical core of the institution. Moreover, faculty members discussed myriad challenges which impact their ability and willingness to implement experiential learning. This research is particularly timely, as institutions review their commitments to experiential learning in the context of a change in government, which may bring new institutional pressures.
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Emerson LaCroix (2019). Experiential Learning and New Institutionalism in Ontario Higher Education: A Qualitative Analysis of the Experiential Learning Certificate at the University of Waterloo. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14822