York University is advancing its leadership role in experiential education through the creation of a new institutional YU Experience Hub. The hub will support experiential education initiatives by identifying opportunities for collaboration and offering services to address common needs.
“Experiential education bridges learning theory and practice by providing students with concrete, applied practical experiences and then helping them reflect on these experiences using the theoretical knowledge they have learned,” said York University’s Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning, William Gage. “And so it is with great pleasure that we announce the establishment of the YU Experience Hub to support efforts across the University aimed at enhancing and growing experiential education.”
Emerging from extensive research conducted by the University’s Experiential Education Working Group that was established in June 2013 (recently expanded as a result of the Institutional Integrated Resource Plan), the hub creates an opportunity to leverage existing pockets of excellence, including projects funded by the Academic Innovation Fund, through greater cooperation and the showcasing of York University’s successes.
The YU Experience Hub will support all aspects of experiential education, including engaging with stakeholders, offering shared services and workshops as needed, and developing new community partnerships. The hub will integrate and build on the expertise and infrastructure of the experiential education unit previously housed in the York University Career Centre and provide support to Faculties in administering internships and co-op programming. This includes student partner outreach, job search support for students embarking on internships and co-op work terms, and recruitment support for employers. The YU Experience Hub provides a range of supports for students on work terms, including facilitating learning agreements, ensuring the appropriate student reflections on work experience and statistical reporting.
“Experiential education continues to be a top priority for our students,” said York Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton. “The YU Experience Hub represents York University’s commitment to enhancing the student learning experience, and it will showcase the breadth and depth of work underway to foster experience-based learning in the classroom, community and workplace.”
Research from the Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities, the Council of Ontario Universities and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario has shown that the integration of experiential education into courses and programs increases student engagement and improves learning. The benefits of experiential education for students include: improved academic performance; the opportunity to gain research and work experience and connect their studies with their career goals; the advancement of community engagement, with mutually reciprocal benefits for faculty research, student learning and the University’s community partners; and strengthening civic engagement.