Abstract

Understanding student motivations for participating in high-impact educational practices is important for improving learning experiences. This article explores student motivations across and within five forms of experiential learning at Elon University: study abroad, research, internships, service-learning, and leadership experiences. Surveys and interviews were used at the end of students’ senior year to understand what drives choices, the obstacles hindering student decisions, and the perceived value of each experience. A complex web of motivations arose related to majors and career goals, the perceived value of different opportunities, learning goals, financial need, minority status, and other factors. Students perceived many benefits from experiential learning related to worldview (93 percent of students), career development (87 percent), and academic learning (84 percent), though students varied widely in reporting which experiences they valued most and least. Findings suggest four implications for practice: making experiential learning a more substantial part of curricula, having a diverse set of experiential learning opportunities available to meet diverse student needs, being attentive to the socioeconomic situations of students, and promoting the benefits of each experiential learning opportunity in a balanced way that promotes multiple facets of a liberal education.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2060
Print ISSN
0021-3667
Pages
pp. 138-156
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-02
Open Access
No
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