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Seniors with Experiential Learning Participation

NKU’s strategic plan identifies experiential learning as a key, value-added dimension of the student academic experience, providing students with opportunities to enhance the application of theoretical knowledge to practices. NKU offers a wide variety of experiential learning activities, including co-operative education; internships; clinical experience; student teaching; field work; practicums; student research and creative activity; service learning; capstones; and study abroad/study away.   

As an initial measure of the University’s breadth of experiential learning opportunities, the graduating senior survey was utilized during 2014-15 to collect information. Once a few years of survey data have been amassed, we will have a baseline understanding of the trends upon which targets can be established.

Graduating Seniors who Indicated Participation in an Experiential Learning Activity While Studying at Northern Kentucky University

  Response %
Total Respondents to Senior Survey, 2017-18                1,926  
   Co-operative education experience (Co-op)                 195 10%
   Internship (paid or unpaid)                 663 34%
   Clinical experience                 279 14%
   Student teaching                 200 10%
   Field work experience                 333 15%
   Practicum                 376 22%
   Student research and creative activities                 392 18%
   Service learning                 155 9%
   Study Abroad/Study Away                           225 13%
Unduplicated Count (one or more activities)                1,353 70%

Out of 2,129 graduating seniors in summer 2017, fall 2017, and spring 2018, 1,926 (90%) responded to the Senior Assessment Survey. Of this group, 1,353 (70%) indicated they participated in one or more experiential learning activities while enrolled at NKU. Students could select more than one experience. Students were also asked to indicate which of these activities were credit-bearing, and 991 (51%) of graduating seniors responding to the survey indicated an experiential learning activity for which they earned credit.

The data collected on the senior survey is a good starting point. However, it is believed that there are inherit weaknesses in this process.  Because the data is self-reported by students, many experiential learning activities may go unreported. In addition, it is difficult for us to influence the growth of experiential learning if we depend exclusively on the senior survey.

Key stakeholders at NKU have explored various models and have conducted research related to best practices for tracking and reporting experiential learning. These stakeholders are pursuing information on more sophisticated approaches to gathering this data, such as connecting the tracking mechanism to the course grading process. The goal of this research has been to discover processes that will capture more accurate results and empower NKU to have a greater impact on increasing student participation in experiential learning.  We have identified a team to fully investigate possible solutions. This team is charged with developing and implementing a comprehensive experiential learning tracking mechanism by the fall of 2016.