Key Development Considerations
As you begin planning an experiential learning opportunity, you will need to be mindful of several key considerations.
Experiential learning opportunities must be designed thoughtfully, ensuring equal access for all students. When developing an off-campus learning experience for students, you should consider potential scenarios related to accessibility. The Council of Ontario Universities (COU)’s Accessible Campus site provides useful tools to help you consider potential accessibility requirements when designing an experiential learning opportunity:
- Consideration of Student Accessibility when Teaching Outside the Classroom: this paper provides an overview of considerations when designing off-campus experiential learning opportunities.
- The Teaching Outside the Classroom Checklist offers a list of considerations of student accessibility when designing off-campus experiential learning opportunities.
All U of T campuses (St. George, Mississauga and Scarborough) have support offices 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. These offices offer you support in designing an experiential learning experience with accessibility in mind, as well as with dealing with specific questions related to a planned experiential learning opportunity.
Accessibility Services uphold the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and U of T’s Statement of Commitment to Persons with Disabilities.
Some experiential learning opportunities create unintended barriers to participation for students. Consider issues of equity, diversity and inclusion when you design an experiential learning opportunity. Items you may consider include:
- What kinds of additional costs will your experiential learning opportunity require of students?
- Will students require special equipment, apparel or other resources in order to participate?
- What financial supports might be 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, can accommodations be made that will still allow these students to participate?
- Does the organization you are partnering 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?
U of T offers various offices and services that work to remove a range of barriers and support members of our community in fulfilling their academic, research and employment goals. Visit the University’s Equity & Diversity page for links to these supports. As you consider the access implications of additional compulsory costs, you may refer to the University’s resources on Ancillary Fees.
Advancing Equitable & Inclusive Experiential Learning Opportunities: A Five-Stage Framework for Change: created by Arts & Science’s Experiential Learning and Outreach Support Office, this guide aims to support EL practitioners in providing EL opportunities that are accessible, inclusive and engage students in meaningful ways.
When developing an experiential learning opportunity, it is important to consider how course content and / or disciplinary outcomes will be integrated into the experience. How can I best prepare my students for this experiential learning opportunity? What information will they need prior to the opportunity? What exercises can we undertake to help students connect course content with the experiential learning opportunity?
Developing strong relationships with external partners will be key to creating a successful partnership-based 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 you to meet community partners’ priorities alongside the goals of your initiative and students. As you consider meaningful reciprocity, you should reach out to your Dean’s Office to discuss the appropriate offices to consult with.
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.
Course and Program
Pedagogically grounded and empirically informed, these 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.
You will find resources to support the development of in-person and remote experiential learning, as well as student-facing modules that can be adapted to suit the needs of your experiential learning opportunity.
Academic divisions, units and programs at the University of Toronto are committed to supporting clarity and transparency regarding student learning experiences within their programs and courses. This commitment includes ensuring the connection and alignment of learning experiences within individual courses and the broader objectives of connected academic programs. In order to achieve these goals at the undergraduate level, a University-wide typology of course experiences has been developed and integrated within the Syllabus module in the Course Information System (CIS).
Experiential Learning Outcomes and Attributes
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.
FUNDING TO SUPPORT EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
Internal and external funding is available to support experiential learning opportunities.