Experiential learning Writing Program initiatives like Boston Now (formerly Arts Now) and parts of broader university programs such as the Hub’s co-curriculars encourage students to bring landscapes and communities from outside the classroom into their writing. Students’ observations act as evidence that gives them opportunities to engage in types of analysis that textual sources alone do not make possible. Experiential learning–including shared experiences of performances, museums, parks, sanctuaries, and neighborhoods–enables students to craft a more diverse range of arguments and also allows faculty and students to choose from a larger set of disciplines and genres.
When instructors use elements of experiential learning and place-based education, students move outside the classroom and become stakeholders in BU, local sites and neighborhoods, and the city of Boston, a process which also deepens their engagement with the classroom community. Having a co-experience of a site or event helps to build classroom community, but if it is not possible to visit a site or attend an event together as a class, a strong shared framework in which to situate student experiences can still spark fruitful discussion and connections.
Selected outside-of-the-classroom experiences
Resources for Teaching
- Crafting a Template for Your Observation Notes
- Formulating Questions and Claims Based on Observations
- Individual in Community Assignment
- Outdoor Class Meetings and Activities
- Place-based Learning
- Place-Based Possibilities: Experiential Learning Ideas for WR Courses
- Pre-Reflection for Outside-the-Classroom Experiences
- Sample WR 120/15x Assignment: Academic Paper on an Outside-of-Class Experience
Also see the syllabus for our Spring 2019 Faculty Seminar, “Exploring Place-Based Pedagogy.”
- Ambrose, Susan A., and Laurie Poklop. “Do Students Really Learn From Experience?” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, vol. 47, no. 1, 2015, pp. 54-61.
- Feilla, Cecilia, Jens Richard Giersdorf, and Magdalena Maczynska. “The Embodied City: Walking and Writing in the Urban Classroom.” Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy, vol. 19, no. 1 (“Teaching the City”), Spring/Summer 2008, pp. 118-137.
- Henthorn, Thomas. “Experiencing the City: Experiential Learning in Urban Environments.” Journal of Urban History, vol. 40, no. 3, 2014, pp. 450–461.
- Parks, Perry. “A Collaborative Approach to Experiential Learning in University Newswriting and Editing Classes: A Case Study.” Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, vol. 70, no. 2, 2015, pp. 125–140.
- Rone, Tracy. “Culture from the Outside in and the Inside out: Experiential Education and the Continuum of Theory, Practice, and Policy.” College Teaching, vol. 54, no. 4, 2008, pp. 237-246.
- Also see the Purdue OWL sections on conducting original research, getting started with primary research, and observing and collecting field notes.