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Experiential learning

November 14th, 2022


What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students “learn by doing.” 

Activities can include study abroad, internships, hands-on laboratory experiments, field exercises, undergraduate research and studio performances. 

Experiential learning is a key component of Western’s strategic plan, and they promote these learning experiences to prospective students, alumni and donors. UWOFA proposes that the Employer guarantee support for such courses, by recognizing that a new metric for experiential workload is needed, and ensuring that members teaching these courses are adequately resourced. 

One Western experiential learning enthusiast is professor Aleksandra Zecevic, Ph. D. 

She spoke to UWOFA about why these courses are important to Western’s Strategic Plan and why they need more funding. 

Students find great value in working beyond academic walls in preparation for their careers.

The future of university is in experiential learning. Knowledge acquisition courses are already transitioning online, and University will be expected to deliver more opportunities for application of the knowledge in practice.

However, for a faculty member, preparation for an experiential learning course is very different from an in-class course. If you have never delivered one, it is unlikely you can understand what it takes to do it.

Preparation goes on for months, and in some cases the whole year. Partners beyond the institution have different priorities, requirements, and worldviews, and as a leader, you must create a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

Workload, preparation and delivery of a community-based and faculty-led abroad course is much greater for a faculty member. It might include student recruitment, review of applications, allocation of funding, collaborative online learning (COIL), organization of the logistics of travel, coordination of staff and academic advisors, and more.

At Western, we receive great support from the Experiential Learning office and Western International, and enthusiasts, like myself, are willing to volunteer extra time and effort. But, the University cannot achieve important strategic goals without adequate workload assignment for faculty members. 

I am very excited about the future of experiential learning in higher education and would be happy to support any administration in understanding and equitably allocating faculty workload to match the required effort.

Aleksandra Zecevic, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor 

2020 Recipient of: 3M National Fellowship in Teaching and Learning

School of Health Studies 

Faculty of Health Sciences 

Western University

** Update from bargaining: The employer has agreed to the proposal to introduce terms governing how teaching work in the form of field trips, field courses, experiential learning courses and study abroad, is counted in a Member’s Workload and to adequately resource such courses.


UWOFA is pleased to see the Employer commit to supporting such important teaching and learning opportunities.