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Applied learning refers to an educational approach whereby students learn by engaging in direct application of skills, theories, and models.
Students apply knowledge and skills gained from traditional classroom learning to hands-on and/or real-world settings, creative projects or independent or directed research and, in turn, apply what is gained from the applied experience to academic learning. The applied learning activity can occur outside of the traditional classroom experience and/or be embedded as part of a course of study or program.
Applied-learning experiences for which a student may earn academic credit in an agreed-upon, short-term, supervised workplace activity, which may be related to a student’s major field or area of interest. The work can be full- or part-time, on- or off-campus, paid or unpaid. Some institutions offer both credit and non-credit bearing internships. Internships integrate classroom knowledge and theory with practical application and skills developed in professional or community settings. This definition does not include internships that are required components of a registered program leading to NYS licensure or certification (e.g., teacher preparation, social work). An internship is distinct from community service or service learning.
A period of practical/field experience in health care and community agencies with faculty supervision focusing on individual patients/clients or groups reflecting diverse settings, across the lifespan. Emphasis is on mastering theoretical concepts, improving skill competency, and developing clinical reasoning skills with a focus on evidence-based practice.
A period of practical or field experience undertaken in academic, professional, or community settings, agencies, or organizations as part of an academic course of study. This approach is grounded in application and practice of theoretical/technical concepts and skills and cultural competency relevant to the course of study or to a profession.
Teacher candidates participate in a range of diverse school and community-based activities that connect theory and practice through reflection to develop the skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to become effective educators.
A credit-bearing educational strategy that integrates meaningful community service that meets identified community need with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience and strengthen communities.
Volunteerism and community service performed by students for community benefit. This service can be but is not necessarily integrated with a particular program of study. This may include structured projects (days of service), smaller group projects, fund-raising events, or individual volunteerism, which is acknowledged by the campus.
A capstone, senior project, performance, or other creative work that occurs as an experience for a student in an accredited class, a course of study or program.
An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate or graduate student that advances our knowledge and makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. Research includes scholarly and creative activities and both the student and the mentor have a vested interest in the research/scholarly/creative experience. The four characteristics of undergraduate research include mentorship, originality, acceptability, and dissemination. Graduate research includes scholarly and creative activities at a higher level of independence relative to undergraduate research.
Students in an entrepreneurship program develop a broad-based entrepreneurial skill relevant to any organization – start-up, established, and for and not-for-profit agency, organization, community or industry. Entrepreneurship involves consistently thinking and acting in ways designed to uncover new opportunities that are then applied to provide value.
Collection of information outside of an experimental or lab setting. This type of data collection is most often conducted in natural settings or environments and can be designed in a variety of ways for various disciplines. May be mentored, self-directed work, or comprise a full course. The projects include inquiry, design, investigation, discovery, and application.
An instructional program delivered in either an overseas location or domestic location. Often the program is delivered as a semester-long or intercession sequence of courses, the content of which is enhanced by the location of instruction, by distinctive historic or cultural features available in the location, or by a unique approach to the subject matter that is specific to the locale. Exchanges are often conducted by individual students traveling independently to a location that has been pre-approved by their home institution, and where they determine their specific course of study in collaboration with home and host institution faculty.
Applied learning refers to an educational approach whereby students learn by engaging in direct application of skills, theories, and models. SUNY has defined five criteria that incorporate good practices for ensuring high-quality experiential learning activities:
To be “approved” the activity or course must meet the five criteria. When applied learning is embedded in a course, these criteria refer to the activity rather than the course as a whole. Regardless of the activity, both the experience and the learning are fundamental.
All parties must be clear from the outset why this specific experience was chosen as the approach to the learning, and intentional about defining the knowledge that should result from it. The activity needs to be a structured experience with a formal process, which includes a course syllabus or learning contract between parties (students, faculty, and other supervisors as appropriate) and/or defined assessable learning outcomes.
Roles and responsibilities for all parties must be clearly defined. Faculty and site supervisors (as appropriate) are expected to take the lead in ensuring both the quality of the learning experience and of the work produced. The applied learning activity should have hands-on and/or real-world context and should be designed in concert with those who will be affected by or use it, or in response to a real situation.
Participants and mentors must ensure that students enter the experience with sufficient background and foundational education, as well as a plan to support a successful outcome. The training and plan should include learning expectations and be referred to (and potentially updated) on an ongoing basis by all parties.
Applied-learning activities are dynamic. Therefore all facilitators in the activity share responsibility for ensuring that the experience, as it is in process, continues to provide a rich learning environment and is meeting learning outcomes. Activities include a defined and flexible method for feedback related to learning outcomes and quality performance for all parties.
There must be a structured opportunity for students to self-assess, analyze, and examine constructs/skills/insights from their experience and to evaluate the outcomes. Reflection should demonstrate the relevance of the experience to student learning, including the student’s articulation of how the experience draws on and improves this learning and meets defined objectives. Post-experience learning should include a formal debriefing. All facilitators and students engaged in the experience should be included in the recognition of progress and accomplishment.
Outcomes and processes should be systematically documented with regard to initial intentions and quality outcomes. Students must receive appropriate and timely feedback from all facilitators.
Applied Learning at Buffalo State is supported by faculty who choose to integrate projects and activities that involve direct application of skills, theories and models into their courses. A Faculty Fellow Program has been initiated to provide interested faculty an opportunity to better understand and apply the SUNY criteria for Approved Applied Learning. The Fellowship provides faculty with time, structured materials and the necessary skills/knowledge to incorporate new applied learning experiences or enhance existing applied learning experiences into one of their courses. Throughout the year, the Applied Learning Leadership team supports faculty who want to learn more about course conversion and applied learning. In addition to the fellowship program, professional development opportunities will be offered in collaboration with the Teaching and Learning Center.
Faculty interested in discussing anything related to incorporating Approved Applied Learning activities and experiences into their courses should contact the leadership team or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Zuckerman-Aviles, director, Career Development Center
Ann Emo, chair and associate professor, Theater
Amy McMillan, professor and director Honors Program, Biology
Pamela Schuetze-Pizarro, professor, Psychology
Pixita M. Del Prado Hill, professor, Elementary Education and Reading
Carolyn Guzski, associate professor, Music
Jessica Fitzpatrick, assistant professor, Social Work