Creative Learning and Teaching at Roberts

By Ben Murphy ’00

The term experiential learning seems to be everywhere these days. It’s a buzzword that many schools use in their marketing, but what does it actually mean? And, more important, how does Roberts Wesleyan approach experiential learning in a way that is unique and different?

In its most basic form, experiential learning is best understood as “learning by doing,” as opposed to learning through repetitive memorization of facts. As an educational concept, it dates as far back as Aristotle, but was made broadly popular in the 1970s through the work of David A. Kolb. And while Roberts approaches higher education through a well-rounded, traditional liberal-arts perspective of learning, our approach has been enhanced through a rich tradition of experiential learning. After all, the very mission statement of the College talks about “preparing thoughtful, spiritually mature, service-oriented people who will help transform society.” In other words, experiential learning isn’t just something we teach, promote or practice. It’s in the very identity of our institution. Roberts was founded on the idea that we learn so that we can serve.

The Roberts community contains numerous examples of experiential learning in action. From student internships and graduate work to staff involvement in the community and cross-disciplinary faculty research, Roberts Wesleyan is immersed in — not just talking about — experiential learning by giving students tangible, real-world opportunities to learn through action.

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