QEP faculty present at national conference, reinforcing commitment to experiential learning

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MURRAY, Ky. — Drs. Alyx Shultz and Jamie Rogers, Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) co-directors at Murray State University, were chosen to present at the National Society for Experiential Education’s (NSEE’s) 46th annual conference this September. Their hour-long presentation was titled “Bringing Learning to Life Without Unleashing a Beast: Trials and Tribulations of Bringing Experiential Education Principles into Practice Across a University.”

 

“Alyx and Jamie’s presentation at this national conference demonstrates the commitment our faculty have to experiential education and the growth of experiential education opportunities for students,” said Dr. Bob Pervine, associate provost for graduate education and research.

 

The conference, titled “From Principles to Practice: Experiential Education Innovation in a Changing World,” took place Sept. 25–27 in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Shultz and Rogers discussed how to gain buy-in and create a strategy for implementing an institution-wide QEP.

 

According to the presentation abstract, doing so can be “daunting” and has the potential to “quickly spiral into an uncontrollable (and un-assessable) ‘beast.’” The presentation explained how Murray State was able to manage their experiential education QEP “without placing additional burden on faculty nor forcing students to complete unnecessary work.”

 

Schultz explained that experiential education is practical, beneficial and fits into Murray State’s student-centered philosophy.

 

“Experiential learning affords students the opportunity to apply concepts they learn in the traditional classroom to real-life settings. Not only has experiential education been proven to lead to better student learning outcomes, employers prefer to hire students with real-world skills,” said Shultz, who is also an assistant professor in the Hutson School of Agriculture. “Many of our students tell us that in addition to being beneficial to their future career prospects, their experiential education opportunities here are fun.”

 

As part of Murray State’s QEP, Shultz and Rogers work to make experiential learning opportunities become engrained in the student experience. Each academic unit has a minimum of one designated experience-rich activity that is customized to the individual program. The goal is to have every student participate in at least one of these activities before graduating.

 

The QEP is a part of the Murray State accreditation process through Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges and is a five-year plan focused on enhancing student learning. The current plan is administered through Bring Learning to Life grants, which not only fund current experiential learning projects, equipment and experiences but also allow faculty and students to apply for funds to support new opportunities that fit within the QEP’s mission.

 

The Bring Learning to Life grants are open to faculty, staff and students. Applications are available at murraystate.edu/qep. Students interested in participating in an experience-rich activity can speak to their academic adviser about opportunities within their program.

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