Staff meeting together


Brescia’s Experiential Learning Framework

There are four overarching themes of Experiential Learning for Brescia: Classroom-Focused Experiential Learning, Community-Based Experiential Learning, Work-Integrated Experiential Learning, and Co-Curricular Experiential Learning. 

*Themes adapted with permission from York University’s report Common Language for Experiential Education (2018).

Classroom-Focused Experiential Learning
Classroom-focused experiential learning involves exposing students to practical learning activities within the classroom (in person or online). These activities require the students to engage in graded reflection or critical reflexive practice on what they have experienced in connection to the theories/concepts they are learning in class. Classroom-focused experiential learning needs to contribute to addressing student learning outcomes.
Community-Focused Experiential Learning
^ Community-based learning involves interactive experiential learning with community partners, but takes place in the classroom. Community partners are invited into the classroom to share issues or problems happening within the community to be explored and analyzed by the students. Students can then apply the knowledge and skills they are developing in class and engage in graded reflection or critical reflexive practice on how the experience then informs their learning. 
^ Community-based research involves providing students with opportunities to work on research projects that are both part of a course and developed in collaboration with community partners. The community-based research activity must address student learning outcomes for the course, as well as the needs of the community partner. Students can then apply the knowledge and skills they are developing and engage in graded reflection or critical reflexive practice. Community-based research can be an applied independent research study or thesis.
^ Community-service learning involves students engaging in activities or projects that address community needs together with structured opportunities that are specifically designed to promote intentional learning outcomes. Participating in practical experiences provides opportunities for students to apply the knowledge and skills they are developing in class, as well as deepening their understanding by engaging in graded reflection or critical reflexive practice on what they are learning. Community-service learning can be used as a way to address course material and raise students’ awareness of the value of civic engagement.
Work-Integrated Experiential Learning
Work-integrated learning provides students with hands-on experience opportunities to develop their competencies and skills supplementing the theories/concepts they are learning in the classroom. Consistent with the other categories of experiential learning, engaging in graded reflection or critical reflexive practice is a key component and requires students to connect the practical experience with their understanding of what they learn in the classroom. Work-integrated learning helps students to demonstrate autonomy and professional capacity.
Co-Curricular Experiential Learning
Co-Curricular Experiential Learning includes various non-credit experiences offered outside of the classroom. In order for these experiences to be recognized as Experiential Learning they must meet the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU) principles outlined for experiential learning and the activity/experience must be listed on the Co-Curricular Record.

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Guiding Principles for Experiential Learning 

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) established principles of Experiential Learning to help students obtain access to work-related experiences prior to graduation. MTCU want every student to have at least one Experiential Learning experience before they graduate. Below are the six MTCU guiding principles and how they are applied at Brescia. For an experience to count as Experiential Learning, you must meet all six principles.

Ministry of Education’s guiding principles for Experiential Learning How the Ministry guiding principles for student experiences will be applied at Brescia
The student is in a workplace or simulated workplace ^ Allow for the application of learned knowledge and skills to a work environment, an environment that simulates a workplace or activities that students would encounter in a work environment.
The student is exposed to authentic demands that improve their employability, interpersonal skills, and transition to the workforce ^ Students will engage in experiences that will enhance their interpersonal and professional skills for career planning and future employment.
The experience is structured with purposeful and meaningful activities ^ Experiences will be meaningful to the student
^ Experiences will be structured with Faculty and Community Partner (where applicable) supervision.
^ Experiences will meet student learning outcomes.
The student applies university or college program knowledge and/or essential employability skills ^ Students will apply theoretical and conceptual learning within practice-based settings.
The experience includes student self-assessment and evaluation of the students’ performance and learning outcomes by the employer and/or university/college ^ Students will engage in grade reflection or critical reflexive practice.
^ Students will be evaluated by the Faculty and Community Partner (where applicable).
The experience counts towards course credit or credential completion OR is formally recognized by the college or university as meeting the five criteria above ^ Students will receive recognition for their experiential learning experience for their curricular (credit) or co-curricular (non-credit) record.

For a detailed table, how they are applied at Brescia and course examples, please see the MTCU Guiding Principles document.

Incorporating Experiential Learning

By integrating Experiential Learning into your courses, you are enhancing your students' education and experience in your classroom! There are a number of ways that you can integrate Experiential Learning into your courses. These are outlined below according to each Experiential Learning Theme from the Framework:

Classroom-Focused Experiential Learning
  • Individual Research Paper
  • Independent Study
  • Group Project
  • Course-related Study Abroad (Faculty-led)
  • Thesis/Dissertation (original research)
  • Simulated Learning Environment (Experiments, Labs, Demonstrations)
  • Creative or Physical Practice
  • Performance Based
  • Case Studies, Teaching Case Studies or Case Method
Community-Focused Experiential Learning
  • Community Partner Project
  • Case Studies, Teaching Case Studies or Case Method
  • Research Project
  • Project or Product Development
Work-Integrated Experiential Learning
  • Practicums
  • Professional Practicums
  • Clinical Placements
  • Capstone
  • Field Work/Experience
  • Field Placements (Short and Long Term)
  • Internships
Co-Curricular Experiential Learning
  • Student Leadership Initiatives
  • Peer Education Initiatives
  • Teaching or Research Assistantships
  • Career Preparation and Professional Development
  • BOLD Works
  • Community-engaged Volunteering
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Internships (short- or long-term)

Experiential Learning and Reflection

An important component in Experiential Learning is Reflection. Reflection is an opportunity for students to not only participate in Experiential Learning, but also to reflect on what they have learned, what they observed and how they applied their learnings practically to their experience. There are numerous formats for reflection including, but not limited to:

  • Journals
  • Portfolios
  • Reports
  • Papers
  • Presentations
  • Interviews
  • Oral reflection
  • Simulations
  • Stories
  • Case studies
  • Role-play

Students can engage in reflection before, during or after their experience. Resources for Reflection can be found by visiting Reflection in Experiential Learning.

Experiential Learning and E-Learning Resources

With the shift to online or virtual learning, a number of resources for e-learing accessibility, community engagement and course engagement were developed in collaboration with two Brescia students as part of the Francolini Leadership Experience. Links to these resources, including videos and handouts are below.

Accessibility, Experiential Learning and E-Learning Video

Accessibility Resource

Course Engagement, Experiential Learning and E-Learning Video

Course Engagement Resource

Community Engagement, Experiential Learning and E-Learning Video

Community Engagement Resource


Experiential Learning Templates

Please find below a number of templates that can be utilized to help facilitate incorporating Experiential Learning into your courses. These templates can be adapted and tailored to meet your course or program needs. Feel free to contact Dr. Thompson if you have any questions about the templates or need support in adapting them.

Brescia Confidentiality Student Accountability Agreement Template

Brescia Experiential Learning Requirement Supervisor Evaluation

Brescia Letter of Agreement Placements Template

Brescia Placement or Practicum Learning Contract Template

Brescia Placement or Volunteer Attendance Log Template

Brescia Practicum Interim Evaluation Template

Brescia Practicum Final Evaluation Template

Brescia Release Waiver-Field Trips Template

Timeline for support

Whether you are incorporating Experiential Learning as classroom-based or community-based, both options do take time to plan.

It is best to begin planning at least six months to one year ahead, depending on the format you choose. For example, incorporating classroom-based Experiential Learning may only require a consultation or two with Dr. Thompson to ensure what you are planning does meet all the requirements for Experiential Learning.

If you are planning to incorporate Experiential Learning in the form of a placement or internship, these do require more planning, specifically regarding reaching out to our community partners.

Your first step is to connect with Dr. Thompson to determine a timeline for incorporating Experiential Learning in your course.