Book by Donna M. Qualters
Review by Elizabeth Dussol
Academic Counseling Office
University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN)

Advisors at institutions that subscribe to the Jossey-Bass series New Directions for Teaching and Learning may want to look at Experiential Education, a collection of eleven essays on experiential learning, each written by a different educator. While this volume does not specifically target academic advisors, it contains worthwhile information.

The first chapter, “Forms and Issues in Experiential Learning” by David Moore, gives a good overview of experiential education, including internships, service-learning, undergraduate research, and study abroad. Moore believes in the possibility of experiential learning have a transformative effect on students, but he says those effects “depend on careful planning and execution, on avoiding the tendency to fall back on the adage that ‘every experiences is educational’, on pushing students – and faculty – to think rigorously and extensively about the intersections between theory and practice”(11). Moore says that almost all college students will participate in some form of experiential learning: advisors can help students begin to think critically about why they want to participate, and how they will integrate this experience into their educations.

Another chapter that advisors might find particularly worthwhile is chapter 6, “Empowering Reflective Ethical Engagement in Field Settings”. The author, Perrin Cohen, offers concrete examples of ethical issues that students might face. Even though this chapter is directed primarily towards faculty teaching or supervising experiential education, I think that the ethical issues raised could certainly be discussed in an advising setting. Cohen provides a table of examples of ethical issues that students might encounter in research, in education, in a clinic, or in the workplace. These are all issues that might be worthwhile discussing with students, or with colleagues. Cohen concludes by saying his hope is that “mainstream educators will begin to appreciate the need to educate students to reflectively pause, acknowledge, and investigate ethical concerns and uncertainties in everyday situations”(54). 

In the final essay, “Experiencing Success: Some Strategies for Planning the Program,” authors (Timothy Donovan, Richard Porter, and James Stellar) draw on their own experiences at Northeastern University. At first glance, this chapter might seem to hold little relevance to advising, but their Strategies for Experiential Programs can be valuable for planning any new program. 

For those who, like me, can’t eat without something to read in hand, an overview of experiential education  that includes ethical issues and  insights on new program planning may be a excellent choice.  Check out Experiential Learning and bon appétit!

Experiential education: Making the most of learning outside the classroom. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (Number 124, Winter, 2010). (2010). Book by Donna M. Qualters (Ed.). Review by Elizabeth Dussol.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 103 pp. ISBN # 978-0-470-94505-6
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