Resources and Tools to Support the Development of Your Experiential Learning Opportunity

Course and Program Development Resources

These resources for faculty and staff were developed by Professor Ashley Stirling, Vice-Dean of Academic Affairs in the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education and are designed for self-directed learning. Pedagogically grounded and empirically informed, the resources were created in consultation with a tri-campus working group and draw upon the collective expertise and experiences of faculty and staff across the institution. They focus on advancing the quality development and delivery of both curricular and co-curricular experiential learning opportunities. There is also a suite of student-facing modules that you may wish to incorporate into your experiential learning course or program.

Resources to Support Remote Experiential Learning

The Remote Experiential Learning Resources page houses a range of resources available to faculty and staff as they design, implement, and administer remote experiential learning opportunities. These resources include recordings of a webinar series that provided guidance and discussion of components and considerations for adapting experiential learning for remote delivery as well as a variety of other remote experiential learning tools, tips, and tricks.

External Funding to Support Remote Experiential Learning

Occasionally, funding becomes available to support experiential learning opportunities for U of T students. These initiatives, coordinated through the Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education, have varying eligibility criteria and deadlines as outlined on the External Funding page.

Key Development Considerations

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.

It is important to design experiential learning opportunities with a view toward providing equal access for all students. When developing an off-campus learning experience for students, you should consider some potential scenarios related to accessibility. The Council of Ontario Universities (COU)’s Accessible Campus provides two useful tools to help you think through potential accessibility requirements when designing an experiential learning opportunity:

All U of T campuses (St. George, Mississauga, and Scarborough) have a service for students with disabilities. While they work independently, all three offices work closely to ensure that the services work within the frameworks of common objectives. You may wish to refer students to their services. The resource below provides a helpful guide regarding academic accommodations for students:

Accessibility Services uphold the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the University of Toronto’s Statement of Commitment to Persons with Disabilities.

Some experiential learning opportunities can create unintended barriers to participation for students. Consider issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion when you are designing an experiential learning opportunity. Some items you may want to consider include:

  • What kinds of additional costs will your experiential learning opportunity require?
    • Will students require special equipment, apparel, resources, etc. in order to participate?
    • What kinds of financial supports might available to students to cover these costs?
  • Will the experiential learning opportunity take place in the evenings or on weekends when students may have family care or work responsibilities? If so, are there accommodations that can be made that will still allow these students to participate?
  • Does the organization you are working with have an equity or human rights policy? Is it an environment that would feel welcoming to all members of our community?
  • What protocols will you have in place to allow students to reach out if they do not feel welcome or if they face issues of discrimination or harassment while participating in their experiential learning opportunity?

There are various offices and services at the University of Toronto that work to remove a range of barriers and support members of the University community in fulfilling their academic, research, and employment goals. Visit the University’s Equity & Diversity website for links to these supports. As you consider the access implications of additional compulsory costs, you may want to refer to the University’s resources on Ancillary Fees.

When developing an experiential learning opportunity, it is important to consider how course content and/or disciplinary outcomes will be integrated into the experience.

Developing strong relationships with external partners will be key to creating a successful partnered experiential learning opportunity for students. Consider what types of organizations would be the best fit for the experience, how you plan to reach out to those organizations, and the ideal process for matching students with organizations. You may wish to discuss these considerations with your divisional experiential learning office or, if your opportunity focuses on community-engaged learning, the Centre for Community Partnerships.

When developing an experiential learning opportunity with a community, non-profit and/or public organization, remember that community-engaged learning is a partnership. Community-engaged partnerships depend on stewardship and require that community partners’ priorities are being met alongside the goals of your initiative and students.

Experiential learning opportunities require reflective activities and assignments that support students in considering their role and place in the experience. Reflection should be iterative and designed to generate, deepen, and document learning. Reflective activities may help students understand how their experience connects to their area of study, what skills they are developing through the experience, and how their preconceived notions may shift because of the experience.

For courses that contain an experiential learning component, if there will be situations where students will be conducting activities that the course instructor believes may constitute a research activity or project, the instructor should contact the Office of the Vice-Provost, Research and Innovation to determine whether an ethics protocol is needed. A course template application is available through My Research Human Protocols (MRHP), which is the online ethics application system. Instructors requiring an ethics protocol would submit the protocol through MRHP and would be responsible for their students’ projects.

Courses require ethics review (and approval) when a course activity is deemed to be research involving human participants, with two notable exceptions:

  • Program evaluation is not considered to be research, unless the plan to disseminate findings (e.g., publication) goes beyond the course or organization.
  • Community-engaged research/service learning is generally not considered research, unless the position is as a member of a research team. In such cases, usually it is the Principal Investigator (PI) that needs to seek research ethics board review, not the student, and the instructor should confirm that all necessary approvals have been received.

University of Toronto Resources

In addition to potential support available from your academic unit and / or Faculty, the below resources can support and advise you as build your experiential learning opportunity.

Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation: provides workshops, online resources and one-to-one consultations for course instructors.

Centre for Community Partnerships: offers workshops, consultations, resources, faculty development events and workshops to help launch successful community-engaged learning courses.

The below services are available to students while engaging in a University sanctioned learning experience, whether on campus or in the community, local or abroad. Students should be encouraged to take advantage of these services to ensure they have the support they require.

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.

(click image to download)

Experiential Learning Matrix for Faculty and Staff

External Resources

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO)’s work-integrated learning site provides resources and reports related to experiential learning and work-integrated learning opportunities.