Making Use of Experience in Learning

While it sounds far-fetched, the idea of having white-collar criminals lecture colleges students on business ethics is not really a huge stretch for higher education.

"Experiential education," while still often derided as a nonempirical approach to learning, is gaining ground in higher education, says Garry Hesser, a professor of sociology and urban studies at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. A past president of the National Society for Experiential Education, he says the organization's ranks now include dozens of university professors. It represents, he says, a return to the ideas of educator John Dewey, who espoused learning through experience.

One bandwagon in higher education today is cooperative learning in which students take jobs as interns in business or volunteer organizations for college credit. Even smaller slices of life, inserted into the curriculum can be valuable, Mr. Hesser says. But he offers caveats.

"As professors, we have to determine what kind of experiences will be educative as opposed to mis-educative," he says. "You might have the most articulate guy who may be the ultimate con artist. So instead of making people avoid it, he convinces people they can get by with it." If a speaker, say an alcoholic, is brought in to tell his story just for the "shock value, then that's pretty dumb and irresponsible," Hesser says.

Richard Davis, a Susquehanna University professor who brought in white-collar criminals, agrees. "When these men get up there, they're the ones that did these things," he says. "It's a powerful message."

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK