Why use experience-based projects?
Earth Day 2007 at City College San Diego. Photo by 'Johntex.' Used under the GNU Free Documentation License
- Experiential learning is a powerful teaching tool. While classroom lectures primarily address the cognitive domain, experiential learning involves the whole student: their cognitive, affective and physical domains (Oxendine, Robinson and Willson, 2004) . The result is that students can relate to the subject matter in a way that is meaningful to their own lives.
- Experience-based projects offer a change of pace from traditional classroom assignments and facilitate learning for students with a variety of learning styles (Millenbah et al, 2004). Students that struggle with writing papers and completing labs may find themselves re-engaged in the course with the help of a project that draws from their own experiences. Even students who are high achievers in traditional assignments often appreciate an original format.
- Projects like this have a lasting impact. In a survey given to students 1-3 years after the Lifestyle Project at Skidmore College, 81% of the students reported that they had made permanent changes to their lifestyles as a result of the project [Kirk and Thomas, 2003] .
- Experience-based projects can help bring the students and the teacher closer together. Because they are sharing aspects of their own actions and decisions, there is a personal element to this type of learning. This can be a valuable way for instructors to get to know their students, and for students to pull together as a team.