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A. Subcommittee Membership

Members of the Experiential Learning Subcommittee were:

  • Bill Alberta, Career Development Office
  • Glenn Applebee, Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Brian Earle, Communication
  • Marianne Krasny, Natural Resources
  • Laura Lacy, Academic Programs
  • Ian Merwin, Fruit & Vegetable Science
  • John Pollak, Co-Chair, Animal Science
  • George Posner, Co-Chair, Education
  • Deborah Streeter, Agricultural, Resource and Managerial Economics
  • Lois Willett, Agricultural, Resource and Managerial Economics

B. CALS Faculty Policy on Undergraduate Educational Gains


Faculty, students, prospective employers, and the general public each have expectations of skills and traits to be gained from an undergraduate education. Most acknowledge the expectation that technical competence be acquired in major and minor fields of study. Increasingly, there are expectations that graduates possess a broad range of intellectual skills that allows them to synthesize knowledge, to achieve understanding of complex issues, and to contribute their specific expertise more effectively. The following policy reflects a consensus of faculty expectations of educational gains by all CALS undergraduate students. This policy is intended to guide the Curriculum Committee and others in CALS seeking to improve the quality and value of undergraduate education.


A CALS undergraduate education should impart understanding of specific and diverse disciplines and develop in students a common core of intellectual skills and traits including:

  • the ability to write and speak effectively in the expression of disciplined thought;
  • the ability to listen carefully and respectfully to the views of others, especially views with which we disagree;
  • the ability to reason effectively in matters both quantitative and qualitative;
  • the ability to access and make effective use of modern sources of information;
  • the ability to evaluate and effectively interpret factual claims, theories, and assumptions in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities; the ability to understand and appreciate the complex biological, social, and physical interrelationships associated with the management of the earth's resources;
  • the ability to communicate with people of different cultural perspectives;
  • the ability to employ ethical reasoning in judging and acting on the moral implications of ideas and deeds;
  • the ability to work both independently and in cooperation with others;
  • the ability to evaluate priorities and to set and achieve goals;
  • the ability to integrate theory with practice;
  • the ability and interest to pursue 'lifelong learning.'

The Experiential Learning Cycle

Step 1: Planning

  • Student works collaboratively with faculty member prior to start of experience
  • Purpose of activity is defined and educational goals are set
  • Evaluation mechanism(s) are identified and timeframe specified
  • Plans and parameters are clear to all parties concerned, including academic credit to be awarded, if applicable

Step 2: Experiencing

(Activity, doing)

  • Key concept is planning for discovery
  • Selection of a single developmentally appropriate learning activity will provide a common experience for participants
  • General objectives at this stage will allow individual learning, i.e., "to explore.", "to examine."

Step 3: Sharing

(Sharing reactions & observations)

  • Key concept is responding
  • Plan adequate time for discovery learning of specific individual objectives
  • Give opportunity for individuals to respond to the experience
  • Sharing individual learning stimulates group growth

Step 4: Processing

(Discussing patterns and dynamics)

  • Key concept is analyzing patterns
  • Examine the shared experience
  • Facilitate questioning which encourages participants to think about the experience from lowest to highest levels of thought

Step 5: Generalizing

(Inferring principles about the "real world")

  • Key question, "So what?"
  • Guide participants from reality inside the activity to meaning in the broader world
  • Focus participants on implications of the activity to their own personal life experience

Step 6: Applying

(Planning more effective behavior)

  • Key question, "Now what?"
  • Participants should consider what can be done with the new information they've learned
  • Apply generalizations to specific situations
  • Design ways individuals and/or groups can use learning generated in future activities

Then, the Experiential Learning Cycle begins again with Step 1.

Adapted from: Curriculum Development for Issues Programming: A National Handbook For Extension Youth Development Professionals, Extension Service, USDA, 9/92