Experiential Learning at the University of Toronto

Learning through experience at the University of Toronto involves the deliberate integration of students’ disciplinary outcomes with competency development and authentic community engagement. Community engagement refers to genuine practice with stakeholders inside or outside the university setting. Reflection is an essential element of all experiential learning activities. Reflection is a process that allows students to consider what they have learned in their experiential learning opportunity and integrate this with their disciplinary knowledge.

Types of Experiential Learning

Refer to this overview of the types of experiential learning as you consider how you might want to incorporate experiential learning into your courses or programs.

Experiential Learning Matrix for Faculty and Staff
Students on field site

You can facilitate experiential learning in your courses or programs in a number of ways. Below you will find five general categories of experiential learning, each containing multiple possibilities for engagement. The categories below are necessarily broad and allow for varied interpretation depending on the context. This is necessary to capture the breadth and depth of opportunities that exist at the University of Toronto. We hope, however, that this overview will support you as you seek to develop experiential learning opportunities.

In community-engaged learning opportunities, students work in partnership with communities or community organizations to support community-identified priorities. These opportunities allow students to learn from community expertise, enhance their disciplinary knowledge, and develop their social and civic responsibility. These opportunities typically involve engagement with community, non-profit, and / or public organizations.

Co-curricular community-engaged learning consists of a structured learning experience that takes place outside of a course, in partnership with community for the purpose of supporting priorities identified by the community, enhancing students’ disciplinary knowledge, and sense of social and civic responsibility. It occurs in non-profit, community and/or public organizations.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Co-curricular Community-Engaged Learning?

  • Community-engaged learning experiences allow students to integrate the theoretical and the practical by using their disciplinary skills and knowledge in an applied setting.
  • Community-engaged learning encourages students to consider the public role of their discipline as well as how their field can learn from, and contribute to, the work of communities and community organizations.
  • In community-engaged learning placements and projects, students learn new knowledge and skills while also offering fresh insight to community organizations through a context of partnership and reciprocity.
  • Community-engaged learning provides students with opportunities for development in a range of areas including personal, career, and civic development.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Alternative Reading Week

Alternative Reading Week (ARW) is a three-day initiative during winter reading week, for students to volunteer in teams to support the needs of different organizations. By participating in ARW, students gain the opportunity to problem solve, work with peers from different disciplines and provide innovative solutions for community organizations’ identified challenges.

Community Youth Mentorship Initiatives, Indigenous Spirit Journey

Community Youth Mentorship Initiatives, engage students as volunteer mentors for youth on-campus and in the community through partnerships with local organizations and school boards. An example of a Youth Mentorship program is the Indigenous Spirit Journey. Over a 16- week program, student volunteers assist youth in experiential land-based activities aimed at: developing strong community leadership…

Community-engaged research provides students with a structured research experience within the context of a course that equitably involves active engagement with community in the research process for the purpose of supporting priorities identified by the community.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Community-Engaged Research?

  • Community-engaged research encourages students to consider the public role of their discipline as well as how their field can learn from, and contribute to, the work communities and community organizations.
  • In community-engaged research, students consider their projects and placements through a disciplinary lens which may support them in understanding the applicability of their degree.
  • In community-engaged research placements and projects, students develop their applied research skills while also offering fresh insight to community organizations through a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Urban Communities and Neighbourhoods Case Study: East Scarborough, CITC01

The course is designed as an introduction to the theory and practice of participatory action research with an emphasis on youth participation and questions of neighbourhood wellbeing, social and spatial justice, and community development. The geographical focus is the East Scarborough community, in close proximity to the U of T Scarborough campus. The course is…

Environmental Research, ENV421

Students in ENV421, Environmental Research spend a full academic year learning qualitative research skills and carrying out a research project from start to finish. Students work as environmental consultants and are ‘hired’ by real local environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) – the ‘clients’. The ENGOs have pressing research questions but do not necessarily have the capacity…

Curricular community-engaged learning consists of a structured learning experience, embedded in a course, in partnership with community for the purpose of supporting priorities identified by the community, enhancing students’ disciplinary knowledge, and sense of social and civic responsibility. It occurs in non-profit, community, and/or public organizations.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Curricular Community-Engaged Learning?

  • Community-engaged learning experiences allow students to integrate the theoretical and the practical by using their disciplinary skills and knowledge in an applied community setting.
  • Community-engaged learning encourages students to consider the public role of their discipline as well as how their field can learn from, and contribute to, the work of communities and community organizations.
  • In community-engaged learning placements and projects, students learn new knowledge and skills while also offering fresh insight to community organizations through a context of partnership and reciprocity.
  • Community-engaged learning provides students with opportunities for development in a range of areas including personal, career, and civic development.

Next Steps and Resources

  • Reach out to your divisional experiential learning office (if applicable) or the Centre for Community Partnerships.
  • Continue or begin conversations with any of your existing community partners; ask what shape a mutually beneficial partnership might take.
  • Review the Guidelines & Procedures section to understand the partnership agreements, insurance and liability coverage, and health and safety policies that are applicable for your curricular community-engaged learning experience.

Profiles / Examples

Understanding the Role of Pharmacology & Toxicology in Society

Pharmacology and Toxicology in Society (PCL389) expands student knowledge regarding the science-behind and societal views of drugs with a focus on street and recreational drug use and substance abuse disorders. Classes focus on the science associated with drug use and class discussions integrate health/drug policy, socio-cultural and media views. Students spend 20 hours with a…

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Environmental Research, ENV421

Students in ENV421, Environmental Research spend a full academic year learning qualitative research skills and carrying out a research project from start to finish. Students work as environmental consultants and are ‘hired’ by real local environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) – the ‘clients’. The ENGOs have pressing research questions but do not necessarily have the capacity…

Working on-campus provides students with closer connections to their institutions, an enhanced sense of community, and helps develop key transferable skills that will support them in future careers. Students have the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to projects being undertaken by academic divisions or units, or those led by individual faculty or staff.

Faculty-led research opportunities allow students to work directly with faculty members on research. These opportunities may be funded or supported in various ways, including, but not limited to: grants, the Work Study program, summer studentship programs, Tri-council and / or USRA awards, the University of Toronto Excellence Award Program, the Jackman Scholars-in-Residence program, Engineering Sciences Theses, or the research abroad program.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Faculty-Led Research?

  • Engaging in research with a faculty member contributes to increased rates of student retention and student engagement.
  • Students learn new skills in research and practice through supporting faculty research.
  • Faculty can identify students with potential for future positions (e.g. work-study or research assistantships) or study opportunities (e.g. graduate or post-doctoral work).

Next Steps and Resources

  • If you are looking to engage undergraduate students in your research, you may wish to create a profile on the Research Catalogue.
  • Visit the Research & Innovation website to review the services and tools for faculty and staff.
  • Review the Guidelines & Procedures page to understand issues related to intellectual property, confidentiality, and research ethics.

Profiles / Examples

Work Study Program, Heritage Language Variation & Change in Toronto Project

Understanding patterns of linguistic variation in multicultural and multilingual communities is the driving force of the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto (HLVC) Project. Work study students design and conduct research projects that aid in developing and testing principles regarding which aspects of heritage languages (mother tongues that do not have official language status)…

Jackman Scholars-in-Residence

Jackman Scholars-in-Residence (SiR) is an annual 4-week undergraduate residency in humanities and social science research. SiR seeks to foster students’ research abilities, create a multidisciplinary community of students and faculty, and pioneer a collaborative, team-based model of experiential learning in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. Students live in St. George College residences, or at…

The Work Study program allows faculty and staff to hire students into on-campus positions that provide students with an opportunity to gain practical work experience. Approved Work Study positions receive central funding to cover 70% of the pay to a maximum per-cycle. Students do not have to be OSAP eligible to participate in the Work Study program and all students are able to participate (including graduate and international students).

Pedagogical Rationale

  • Through the Work Study program, students develop their knowledge and skills in areas of interest.
  • The work experience students gain through the program allows them to explore how their academic studies translate into career pathways.

Next Steps and Resources

  • Visit the CLNx to find full details about the Work Study program, including program requirements and eligibility, upcoming program dates and the step by step process for hiring work-study students
  • The Work Study program offers a Professional Development Workbook to support student’s reflective process.

Profiles / Examples

Work Study Program, Heritage Language Variation & Change in Toronto Project

Understanding patterns of linguistic variation in multicultural and multilingual communities is the driving force of the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto (HLVC) Project. Work study students design and conduct research projects that aid in developing and testing principles regarding which aspects of heritage languages (mother tongues that do not have official language status)…

Organization partnerships allow students to participate in project-based research, artistic projects and performances, design, or consultancy work supervised by an instructor or staff member from the University. Students connect with industry, community, public, NGO, or other external partners in order to apply their knowledge and skills, learn from their partners and contribute to the development of new knowledge, products, technologies, or services.

Entrepreneurship opportunities allow students to create, organize, and manage a product development or business venture for the purpose of fostering innovation, social impact, and / or contribution to the local and global marketplace. This may take the form of partnership with a startup or offering students the opportunity to work on the development of their own business idea. These opportunities can be curricular or co-curricular.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Entrepreneurship?

  • Students consider the challenges and opportunities of starting and scaling a business through the lens of their area of study, helping them understand the applicability of their degree.
  • Provides students with opportunities to gain experience in the world of social enterprises and tech startups and to develop their professional skills.
  • Students will gain innovation skills that will support them in any future pathway.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Start-up Experience Program

The Start-up Experience Program matches a diverse range of undergraduate students to work with seed and early stage start-up companies supported by ICUBE UTM. ICUBE UTM mentors and supports students throughout a 5- to 10-week term, helping them develop transferable employment skills through a series of workshops, seminars, and micro work-term placements. The program consists…

New Venture Program

The New Venture Program blends academics with mentorship and relevant experience. It is a rigorous co-curricular program that involves the completion of several modules, culminating in a series of ‘defenses’ of a student venture’s business plan. Students will develop a strong background in business planning and management so that they can create sophisticated conceptual analyses…

An organization-partnered projects could incorporate project-based design, artistic projects and performance, or consultancy work supervised by an instructor or staff member from the University. Students liaise with an external partner organization and engage in processes authentic to professional practice in their field. This includes the exchange of ideas and consultation/critique from the partner.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Organization-Partnered Projects?

  • Students consider an organization’s challenge / project through the lens of their area of study, thereby allowing them to understand the applicability of their degree to potential future career pathways.
  • Organization-partnered projects allow students insight into various types of organizations and industries.
  • These projects provide students with opportunities to enhance their professional skills as they engage with professionals in a structured manner.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Engineering Strategies and Practice, ESP

Engineering Strategies and Practice (ESP) is a foundational design course sequence that uses the engineering design process as a context for developing skills essential to the practice of engineering. Students work with clients facing problem in their workplace, community, or organizations. These are real world problems that students are tasked to solve through the utilization…

Understanding the Role of Pharmacology & Toxicology in Society

Pharmacology and Toxicology in Society (PCL389) expands student knowledge regarding the science-behind and societal views of drugs with a focus on street and recreational drug use and substance abuse disorders. Classes focus on the science associated with drug use and class discussions integrate health/drug policy, socio-cultural and media views. Students spend 20 hours with a…

Service Delivery Improvement (SDI) Project

Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough partnered with the Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership (TEQLIP), a group that represents 40 newcomer settlement service providers in the Scarborough area. The agencies had difficulty tracking services due to a variety of data formats and were challenged in obtaining an overall sense of newcomer activity in…

Organization-partnered research offers a structured learning experience whereby students work with an external partner organization on a research project sponsored or initiated by the partner. The research project addresses specific questions set with the partner and produces new knowledge relevant to the student’s field of study.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Organization-Partnered Research?

  • Organization-partnered research may expose students to methodologies, ideas, and resources (e.g. equipment, data, expertise) that are not available in other settings.
  • These projects ask students to consider an organization’s research question through the lens of their area of study, thereby allowing them to understand the applicability of their degree.
  • Organization-partnered research provides students with the opportunity to enhance their professional skills as they engage with professionals in a structured manner.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Urban Communities and Neighbourhoods Case Study: East Scarborough, CITC01

The course is designed as an introduction to the theory and practice of participatory action research with an emphasis on youth participation and questions of neighbourhood wellbeing, social and spatial justice, and community development. The geographical focus is the East Scarborough community, in close proximity to the U of T Scarborough campus. The course is…

Simulated work experiences allow students to practice authentic learning activities that present most of the cognitive demands the student would encounter in the “real world”. The experiences occur within environmental circumstances and surroundings that mimic those present while engaged in the activities outside of the university. Common forms of simulated work experiences include hackathons, boot-camps, and job shadowing placements that incorporate a simulated hands-on experience. These opportunities can be curricular or co-curricular.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why a Simulated Work Experience?

  • By working through a problem, whether real of simulated, students are able to apply their disciplinary knowledge and competencies to challenges that are faced by industry and community partners.
  • Simulated work experiences provide insights into the perspectives and challenges faced by various types of organizations and industries.

Next Steps and Resources

  • If you are planning a co-curricular simulated work experience, consider adding it to the Co-Curricular Record (CCR) so that students can receive credit for participating on their transcript.

Profiles / Examples

Engineering Strategies and Practice, ESP

Engineering Strategies and Practice (ESP) is a foundational design course sequence that uses the engineering design process as a context for developing skills essential to the practice of engineering. Students work with clients facing problem in their workplace, community, or organizations. These are real world problems that students are tasked to solve through the utilization…

Job Shadowing Program

The Job Shadowing Program expands students’ career thinking, supports their career exploration skills, and helps them consider what they could do with their degree. Both students and recent alumni (up to 2 years after graduation) are provided the opportunity to ‘shadow’ a professional for a minimum of a half-day, up to five days at the…

In these practice-based workplace experiences students meet, shadow, and sometimes assist professionals working in a particular field or instructors leading an off-campus experience. These experiential learning opportunities aim to support students with their professional and disciplinary-based competency development.

A field experience is a practice-based experience where students participate in components of a discipline or profession through the hands-on application of disciplinary concepts. Field experiences typically occur under the direction or supervision of a faculty member or a non-licensed professional. This type of experience is primarily intended to support professional and discipline-based competency development, but is not required for professional licensure or accreditation. Experiences where students are only observing professional activities (e.g. field trips) are not considered field experiences in this context.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Fieldwork?

  • Field experiences provide students with an opportunity, often for the first time, to turn their theory into practice in more applied settings.
  • Field experiences provide a direct link to program content while also preparing students for professional environments.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Bachelor of Kinesiology In-Field Learning

In the Bachelor of Kinesiology (BKin) program, professional placements, termed in-field learning, occur as a part of upper-year KPE academic courses. For these unpaid placements in the BKin program, students are matched with a qualified professional and observe and assist as appropriate in tasks with a kinesiology/physical education focus. Placements are offered in a variety…

Field Archaeology, NMC 261

Field Archaeology, NMC261 is a general practicum course for archaeological field methods with a focus on Near Eastern Archaeology. Partnered with Woodsworth College’s Summer Abroad Program, the course consists of a six-week archaeological field school which takes place in the Republic of Georgia. Students contribute to the active and ongoing research program of the Gadachrili…

A professional practicum, also called a clinical placement, is a practice-based experience where students observe or assist a licensed or registered professional through the hands-on application of disciplinary concepts in a professional setting, typically off-campus. This type of experience is primarily intended to support professional and discipline-based competency development. Students do not have an independent workload while on placement.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Professional Practica?

  • Participation in a professional practicum can develop students’ skills in a particular profession.
  • In many cases, a specific number of professional practica hours are required to meet graduation and / or accreditation requirements.
  • Students do not typically take on their own case or work load, thereby allowing them to experience the workplace with direct supervision and support.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

A work experience that supports students in connecting their disciplinary knowledge and skills in a professional environment and supports the transition of students to the workplace.

An academic internship is a workplace-based experience that integrates academic learning with application in the workplace for the purpose of enhancing students’ employability and allowing them to explore potential future pathways. These opportunities are supervised by an experienced professional and are typically organized as a single work term but can vary in length and intensity. Academic internships are directly connected to a course or program of study. An academic internship course typically includes both work experience and in-class academic components, the latter of which are intended to help contextualize and make connections between the work experience and discipline-based learning and theories.

Note: There are also internships that are not directly connected to a course or program of study (e.g. government internship programs). These typically fall outside the umbrella of experiential learning. Some academic units choose to promote non-experiential learning internship opportunities to support students who are looking to gain work experience.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Academic Internships?

  • Students receive supervised guidance over an extended period of time, leading to deeper learning and skill development.
  • Internships can be tailored to fit specific course expectations and benchmarks while being structured to provide specific learning-outcomes for students.
  • Internships can provide students with realistic perspectives on specific industries and professional settings.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Internship in the Arts and Visual Studies: VST410H5

The Internship in the Arts and Visual Studies (VST410H5), offered by the Department of Visual Studies (DVS) at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain practical work experience at an institution or business related to the arts and to visual studies. This course is especially tailored for mature…

Women and Gender Studies Practicum, WGS435

Experiential learning as feminist praxis has long been a fundamental part of Women and Gender Studies programs. Initiated in 2004, WGS435Y, the UTM Women and Gender Studies Practicum, is a year-long community engaged learning course that provides the opportunity for advanced WGS students to combine theory and practice through participating in a part-time unpaid placement…

There are two types of co-operative education programs. These programs can be accredited by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada and must meet specific criteria to be recognized as such:

Co-op involves alternating study and paid work terms for students in opportunities related to their field of study. Co-op programs follow the academic calendar and allow students to explore various professional environments within a specific industry or field.

Co-op Internship involves a single work term where students work for an employer for 12 to 16 consecutive months.

The work experiences offered through each type of co-op program allow students to expand their knowledge, practice the latest theories and approaches in their particular discipline, develop employment skills, explore career options, and network with potential employers.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Co-op?

Students receive supervised guidance over an extended period of time, leading to deeper learning and skill development.

Co-op placements can be tailored to fit specific disciplinary expectations and benchmarks and can enhance students’ understanding of the value and applicability of their degrees.
Co-ops support the development of students’ professional skills as well as their understanding of professional settings.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Master of Science in Sustainability Management Program Co-op Program

The Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MScSM) Program is an interdisciplinary Program focusing on the intersection of science, business and community.Real-world learning and experiences are key components of our program design. Students complete a full 4-month co-op term in their chosen field of interest midway through their degrees, enabling them to put their coursework…

Professional Experience Year (PEY) Co-op

The PEY Co-op program is run out of the Engineering Career Centre (ECC) at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (FASE). In 2019 the Faculty celebrated 40 years of PEY Co-op. Currently, third-year undergraduate students register to participate in a recruitment cycle to compete for 12 – 16 months co-op work terms. The largest…

Arts & Science Co-op

Currently representing 35 academic programs at UTSC, the Arts & Science Co-op program houses over 40 years of expertise in co-operative education. We facilitate academically aligned paid co-op work terms and empower our students through extensive preparation: each Arts & Science Co-op student receives 55+ hours of job search training through co-op preparation courses prior…

Community Engagement

In community-engaged learning opportunities, students work in partnership with communities or community organizations to support community-identified priorities. These opportunities allow students to learn from community expertise, enhance their disciplinary knowledge, and develop their social and civic responsibility. These opportunities typically involve engagement with community, non-profit, and / or public organizations.

Co-curricular community-engaged learning consists of a structured learning experience that takes place outside of a course, in partnership with community for the purpose of supporting priorities identified by the community, enhancing students’ disciplinary knowledge, and sense of social and civic responsibility. It occurs in non-profit, community and/or public organizations.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Co-curricular Community-Engaged Learning?

  • Community-engaged learning experiences allow students to integrate the theoretical and the practical by using their disciplinary skills and knowledge in an applied setting.
  • Community-engaged learning encourages students to consider the public role of their discipline as well as how their field can learn from, and contribute to, the work of communities and community organizations.
  • In community-engaged learning placements and projects, students learn new knowledge and skills while also offering fresh insight to community organizations through a context of partnership and reciprocity.
  • Community-engaged learning provides students with opportunities for development in a range of areas including personal, career, and civic development.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Alternative Reading Week

Alternative Reading Week (ARW) is a three-day initiative during winter reading week, for students to volunteer in teams to support the needs of different organizations. By participating in ARW, students gain the opportunity to problem solve, work with peers from different disciplines and provide innovative solutions for community organizations’ identified challenges.

Community Youth Mentorship Initiatives, Indigenous Spirit Journey

Community Youth Mentorship Initiatives, engage students as volunteer mentors for youth on-campus and in the community through partnerships with local organizations and school boards. An example of a Youth Mentorship program is the Indigenous Spirit Journey. Over a 16- week program, student volunteers assist youth in experiential land-based activities aimed at: developing strong community leadership…

Community-engaged research provides students with a structured research experience within the context of a course that equitably involves active engagement with community in the research process for the purpose of supporting priorities identified by the community.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Community-Engaged Research?

  • Community-engaged research encourages students to consider the public role of their discipline as well as how their field can learn from, and contribute to, the work communities and community organizations.
  • In community-engaged research, students consider their projects and placements through a disciplinary lens which may support them in understanding the applicability of their degree.
  • In community-engaged research placements and projects, students develop their applied research skills while also offering fresh insight to community organizations through a context of partnership and reciprocity.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Urban Communities and Neighbourhoods Case Study: East Scarborough, CITC01

The course is designed as an introduction to the theory and practice of participatory action research with an emphasis on youth participation and questions of neighbourhood wellbeing, social and spatial justice, and community development. The geographical focus is the East Scarborough community, in close proximity to the U of T Scarborough campus. The course is…

Environmental Research, ENV421

Students in ENV421, Environmental Research spend a full academic year learning qualitative research skills and carrying out a research project from start to finish. Students work as environmental consultants and are ‘hired’ by real local environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) – the ‘clients’. The ENGOs have pressing research questions but do not necessarily have the capacity…

Curricular community-engaged learning consists of a structured learning experience, embedded in a course, in partnership with community for the purpose of supporting priorities identified by the community, enhancing students’ disciplinary knowledge, and sense of social and civic responsibility. It occurs in non-profit, community, and/or public organizations.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Curricular Community-Engaged Learning?

  • Community-engaged learning experiences allow students to integrate the theoretical and the practical by using their disciplinary skills and knowledge in an applied community setting.
  • Community-engaged learning encourages students to consider the public role of their discipline as well as how their field can learn from, and contribute to, the work of communities and community organizations.
  • In community-engaged learning placements and projects, students learn new knowledge and skills while also offering fresh insight to community organizations through a context of partnership and reciprocity.
  • Community-engaged learning provides students with opportunities for development in a range of areas including personal, career, and civic development.

Next Steps and Resources

  • Reach out to your divisional experiential learning office (if applicable) or the Centre for Community Partnerships.
  • Continue or begin conversations with any of your existing community partners; ask what shape a mutually beneficial partnership might take.
  • Review the Guidelines & Procedures section to understand the partnership agreements, insurance and liability coverage, and health and safety policies that are applicable for your curricular community-engaged learning experience.

Profiles / Examples

Understanding the Role of Pharmacology & Toxicology in Society

Pharmacology and Toxicology in Society (PCL389) expands student knowledge regarding the science-behind and societal views of drugs with a focus on street and recreational drug use and substance abuse disorders. Classes focus on the science associated with drug use and class discussions integrate health/drug policy, socio-cultural and media views. Students spend 20 hours with a…

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Environmental Research, ENV421

Students in ENV421, Environmental Research spend a full academic year learning qualitative research skills and carrying out a research project from start to finish. Students work as environmental consultants and are ‘hired’ by real local environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) – the ‘clients’. The ENGOs have pressing research questions but do not necessarily have the capacity…

On-Campus Work

Working on-campus provides students with closer connections to their institutions, an enhanced sense of community, and helps develop key transferable skills that will support them in future careers. Students have the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to projects being undertaken by academic divisions or units, or those led by individual faculty or staff.

Faculty-led research opportunities allow students to work directly with faculty members on research. These opportunities may be funded or supported in various ways, including, but not limited to: grants, the Work Study program, summer studentship programs, Tri-council and / or USRA awards, the University of Toronto Excellence Award Program, the Jackman Scholars-in-Residence program, Engineering Sciences Theses, or the research abroad program.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Faculty-Led Research?

  • Engaging in research with a faculty member contributes to increased rates of student retention and student engagement.
  • Students learn new skills in research and practice through supporting faculty research.
  • Faculty can identify students with potential for future positions (e.g. work-study or research assistantships) or study opportunities (e.g. graduate or post-doctoral work).

Next Steps and Resources

  • If you are looking to engage undergraduate students in your research, you may wish to create a profile on the Research Catalogue.
  • Visit the Research & Innovation website to review the services and tools for faculty and staff.
  • Review the Guidelines & Procedures page to understand issues related to intellectual property, confidentiality, and research ethics.

Profiles / Examples

Work Study Program, Heritage Language Variation & Change in Toronto Project

Understanding patterns of linguistic variation in multicultural and multilingual communities is the driving force of the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto (HLVC) Project. Work study students design and conduct research projects that aid in developing and testing principles regarding which aspects of heritage languages (mother tongues that do not have official language status)…

Jackman Scholars-in-Residence

Jackman Scholars-in-Residence (SiR) is an annual 4-week undergraduate residency in humanities and social science research. SiR seeks to foster students’ research abilities, create a multidisciplinary community of students and faculty, and pioneer a collaborative, team-based model of experiential learning in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. Students live in St. George College residences, or at…

The Work Study program allows faculty and staff to hire students into on-campus positions that provide students with an opportunity to gain practical work experience. Approved Work Study positions receive central funding to cover 70% of the pay to a maximum per-cycle. Students do not have to be OSAP eligible to participate in the Work Study program and all students are able to participate (including graduate and international students).

Pedagogical Rationale

  • Through the Work Study program, students develop their knowledge and skills in areas of interest.
  • The work experience students gain through the program allows them to explore how their academic studies translate into career pathways.

Next Steps and Resources

  • Visit the CLNx to find full details about the Work Study program, including program requirements and eligibility, upcoming program dates and the step by step process for hiring work-study students
  • The Work Study program offers a Professional Development Workbook to support student’s reflective process.

Profiles / Examples

Work Study Program, Heritage Language Variation & Change in Toronto Project

Understanding patterns of linguistic variation in multicultural and multilingual communities is the driving force of the Heritage Language Variation and Change in Toronto (HLVC) Project. Work study students design and conduct research projects that aid in developing and testing principles regarding which aspects of heritage languages (mother tongues that do not have official language status)…

Organization Partnerships

Organization partnerships allow students to participate in project-based research, artistic projects and performances, design, or consultancy work supervised by an instructor or staff member from the University. Students connect with industry, community, public, NGO, or other external partners in order to apply their knowledge and skills, learn from their partners and contribute to the development of new knowledge, products, technologies, or services.

Entrepreneurship opportunities allow students to create, organize, and manage a product development or business venture for the purpose of fostering innovation, social impact, and / or contribution to the local and global marketplace. This may take the form of partnership with a startup or offering students the opportunity to work on the development of their own business idea. These opportunities can be curricular or co-curricular.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Entrepreneurship?

  • Students consider the challenges and opportunities of starting and scaling a business through the lens of their area of study, helping them understand the applicability of their degree.
  • Provides students with opportunities to gain experience in the world of social enterprises and tech startups and to develop their professional skills.
  • Students will gain innovation skills that will support them in any future pathway.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Start-up Experience Program

The Start-up Experience Program matches a diverse range of undergraduate students to work with seed and early stage start-up companies supported by ICUBE UTM. ICUBE UTM mentors and supports students throughout a 5- to 10-week term, helping them develop transferable employment skills through a series of workshops, seminars, and micro work-term placements. The program consists…

New Venture Program

The New Venture Program blends academics with mentorship and relevant experience. It is a rigorous co-curricular program that involves the completion of several modules, culminating in a series of ‘defenses’ of a student venture’s business plan. Students will develop a strong background in business planning and management so that they can create sophisticated conceptual analyses…

An organization-partnered projects could incorporate project-based design, artistic projects and performance, or consultancy work supervised by an instructor or staff member from the University. Students liaise with an external partner organization and engage in processes authentic to professional practice in their field. This includes the exchange of ideas and consultation/critique from the partner.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Organization-Partnered Projects?

  • Students consider an organization’s challenge / project through the lens of their area of study, thereby allowing them to understand the applicability of their degree to potential future career pathways.
  • Organization-partnered projects allow students insight into various types of organizations and industries.
  • These projects provide students with opportunities to enhance their professional skills as they engage with professionals in a structured manner.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Engineering Strategies and Practice, ESP

Engineering Strategies and Practice (ESP) is a foundational design course sequence that uses the engineering design process as a context for developing skills essential to the practice of engineering. Students work with clients facing problem in their workplace, community, or organizations. These are real world problems that students are tasked to solve through the utilization…

Understanding the Role of Pharmacology & Toxicology in Society

Pharmacology and Toxicology in Society (PCL389) expands student knowledge regarding the science-behind and societal views of drugs with a focus on street and recreational drug use and substance abuse disorders. Classes focus on the science associated with drug use and class discussions integrate health/drug policy, socio-cultural and media views. Students spend 20 hours with a…

Service Delivery Improvement (SDI) Project

Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough partnered with the Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership (TEQLIP), a group that represents 40 newcomer settlement service providers in the Scarborough area. The agencies had difficulty tracking services due to a variety of data formats and were challenged in obtaining an overall sense of newcomer activity in…

Organization-partnered research offers a structured learning experience whereby students work with an external partner organization on a research project sponsored or initiated by the partner. The research project addresses specific questions set with the partner and produces new knowledge relevant to the student’s field of study.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Organization-Partnered Research?

  • Organization-partnered research may expose students to methodologies, ideas, and resources (e.g. equipment, data, expertise) that are not available in other settings.
  • These projects ask students to consider an organization’s research question through the lens of their area of study, thereby allowing them to understand the applicability of their degree.
  • Organization-partnered research provides students with the opportunity to enhance their professional skills as they engage with professionals in a structured manner.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Urban Communities and Neighbourhoods Case Study: East Scarborough, CITC01

The course is designed as an introduction to the theory and practice of participatory action research with an emphasis on youth participation and questions of neighbourhood wellbeing, social and spatial justice, and community development. The geographical focus is the East Scarborough community, in close proximity to the U of T Scarborough campus. The course is…

Simulated work experiences allow students to practice authentic learning activities that present most of the cognitive demands the student would encounter in the “real world”. The experiences occur within environmental circumstances and surroundings that mimic those present while engaged in the activities outside of the university. Common forms of simulated work experiences include hackathons, boot-camps, and job shadowing placements that incorporate a simulated hands-on experience. These opportunities can be curricular or co-curricular.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why a Simulated Work Experience?

  • By working through a problem, whether real of simulated, students are able to apply their disciplinary knowledge and competencies to challenges that are faced by industry and community partners.
  • Simulated work experiences provide insights into the perspectives and challenges faced by various types of organizations and industries.

Next Steps and Resources

  • If you are planning a co-curricular simulated work experience, consider adding it to the Co-Curricular Record (CCR) so that students can receive credit for participating on their transcript.

Profiles / Examples

Engineering Strategies and Practice, ESP

Engineering Strategies and Practice (ESP) is a foundational design course sequence that uses the engineering design process as a context for developing skills essential to the practice of engineering. Students work with clients facing problem in their workplace, community, or organizations. These are real world problems that students are tasked to solve through the utilization…

Job Shadowing Program

The Job Shadowing Program expands students’ career thinking, supports their career exploration skills, and helps them consider what they could do with their degree. Both students and recent alumni (up to 2 years after graduation) are provided the opportunity to ‘shadow’ a professional for a minimum of a half-day, up to five days at the…

Professional Practice

In these practice-based workplace experiences students meet, shadow, and sometimes assist professionals working in a particular field or instructors leading an off-campus experience. These experiential learning opportunities aim to support students with their professional and disciplinary-based competency development.

A field experience is a practice-based experience where students participate in components of a discipline or profession through the hands-on application of disciplinary concepts. Field experiences typically occur under the direction or supervision of a faculty member or a non-licensed professional. This type of experience is primarily intended to support professional and discipline-based competency development, but is not required for professional licensure or accreditation. Experiences where students are only observing professional activities (e.g. field trips) are not considered field experiences in this context.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Fieldwork?

  • Field experiences provide students with an opportunity, often for the first time, to turn their theory into practice in more applied settings.
  • Field experiences provide a direct link to program content while also preparing students for professional environments.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Bachelor of Kinesiology In-Field Learning

In the Bachelor of Kinesiology (BKin) program, professional placements, termed in-field learning, occur as a part of upper-year KPE academic courses. For these unpaid placements in the BKin program, students are matched with a qualified professional and observe and assist as appropriate in tasks with a kinesiology/physical education focus. Placements are offered in a variety…

Field Archaeology, NMC 261

Field Archaeology, NMC261 is a general practicum course for archaeological field methods with a focus on Near Eastern Archaeology. Partnered with Woodsworth College’s Summer Abroad Program, the course consists of a six-week archaeological field school which takes place in the Republic of Georgia. Students contribute to the active and ongoing research program of the Gadachrili…

A professional practicum, also called a clinical placement, is a practice-based experience where students observe or assist a licensed or registered professional through the hands-on application of disciplinary concepts in a professional setting, typically off-campus. This type of experience is primarily intended to support professional and discipline-based competency development. Students do not have an independent workload while on placement.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Professional Practica?

  • Participation in a professional practicum can develop students’ skills in a particular profession.
  • In many cases, a specific number of professional practica hours are required to meet graduation and / or accreditation requirements.
  • Students do not typically take on their own case or work load, thereby allowing them to experience the workplace with direct supervision and support.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Work Term

A work experience that supports students in connecting their disciplinary knowledge and skills in a professional environment and supports the transition of students to the workplace.

An academic internship is a workplace-based experience that integrates academic learning with application in the workplace for the purpose of enhancing students’ employability and allowing them to explore potential future pathways. These opportunities are supervised by an experienced professional and are typically organized as a single work term but can vary in length and intensity. Academic internships are directly connected to a course or program of study. An academic internship course typically includes both work experience and in-class academic components, the latter of which are intended to help contextualize and make connections between the work experience and discipline-based learning and theories.

Note: There are also internships that are not directly connected to a course or program of study (e.g. government internship programs). These typically fall outside the umbrella of experiential learning. Some academic units choose to promote non-experiential learning internship opportunities to support students who are looking to gain work experience.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Academic Internships?

  • Students receive supervised guidance over an extended period of time, leading to deeper learning and skill development.
  • Internships can be tailored to fit specific course expectations and benchmarks while being structured to provide specific learning-outcomes for students.
  • Internships can provide students with realistic perspectives on specific industries and professional settings.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

iPRAKTIKUM

iPRAKTIKUM is an experiential learning and internationalization initiative that helps students find impactful internships designed to promote global fluency and cultural competence and to deepen skills acquired in the classroom in work contexts. Placements are available at local schools and businesses in Toronto and Germany through futurGenerator, a program focused on sustainability and social innovation…

Internship in the Arts and Visual Studies: VST410H5

The Internship in the Arts and Visual Studies (VST410H5), offered by the Department of Visual Studies (DVS) at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain practical work experience at an institution or business related to the arts and to visual studies. This course is especially tailored for mature…

Women and Gender Studies Practicum, WGS435

Experiential learning as feminist praxis has long been a fundamental part of Women and Gender Studies programs. Initiated in 2004, WGS435Y, the UTM Women and Gender Studies Practicum, is a year-long community engaged learning course that provides the opportunity for advanced WGS students to combine theory and practice through participating in a part-time unpaid placement…

There are two types of co-operative education programs. These programs can be accredited by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada and must meet specific criteria to be recognized as such:

Co-op involves alternating study and paid work terms for students in opportunities related to their field of study. Co-op programs follow the academic calendar and allow students to explore various professional environments within a specific industry or field.

Co-op Internship involves a single work term where students work for an employer for 12 to 16 consecutive months.

The work experiences offered through each type of co-op program allow students to expand their knowledge, practice the latest theories and approaches in their particular discipline, develop employment skills, explore career options, and network with potential employers.

Pedagogical Rationale: Why Co-op?

Students receive supervised guidance over an extended period of time, leading to deeper learning and skill development.

Co-op placements can be tailored to fit specific disciplinary expectations and benchmarks and can enhance students’ understanding of the value and applicability of their degrees.
Co-ops support the development of students’ professional skills as well as their understanding of professional settings.

Next Steps and Resources

Profiles / Examples

Master of Science in Sustainability Management Program Co-op Program

The Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MScSM) Program is an interdisciplinary Program focusing on the intersection of science, business and community.Real-world learning and experiences are key components of our program design. Students complete a full 4-month co-op term in their chosen field of interest midway through their degrees, enabling them to put their coursework…

Professional Experience Year (PEY) Co-op

The PEY Co-op program is run out of the Engineering Career Centre (ECC) at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (FASE). In 2019 the Faculty celebrated 40 years of PEY Co-op. Currently, third-year undergraduate students register to participate in a recruitment cycle to compete for 12 – 16 months co-op work terms. The largest…

Arts & Science Co-op

Currently representing 35 academic programs at UTSC, the Arts & Science Co-op program houses over 40 years of expertise in co-operative education. We facilitate academically aligned paid co-op work terms and empower our students through extensive preparation: each Arts & Science Co-op student receives 55+ hours of job search training through co-op preparation courses prior…