Experimental Learning is Imperative


I really enjoyed the video from last class. I never considered the one way dialogue our society experiences during the early time of television or thought about how it limited our voices. It is amazing how social media and the internet has revolutionized our world. From social gatherings and interactions to education and informational news, the conversation is now a two-way street and every citizen can have their voices be heard. However, with every advancement, there always come negative aspects. Now that social media can easily connect people, it also can be a distraction or an easy avenue for criminal activity. Additionally, if you walked into any restaurant right now, I guarantee that 75% of the patrons would be in their phones while the other 25% are fighting for their undivided attention.


In the world of engineering, I agree with Kuh’s argument and believe experimental learning is imperative. In Campbell’s article, the statement, “The common denominator is a real-world context that provides deeply integrative opportunities for classroom-based learning to be applied to complex and complexly situated problems or opportunities” really stood out to me. Students can be in the classroom for years, learning about the nuts and bolts of engineering and science, but what good is their theoretical knowledge going to do when it comes to solving hands on those real world engineering issues? I can speak on this first hand as in my undergraduate engineering program, we had hand on labs and a year long capstone project. The experiences I had in labs and working hands on for my capstone project has better prepared me for my young professional career and attributed to my success as a graduate researcher. Experimental learning should be implemented throughout a student’s educational training and especially in higher education.

5 Replies to “Experimental Learning is Imperative”

  1. You bring up a great point about project based learning. It is definitely an important tool that can be used to prepare students for what they will experience in their professional lives.
    When networked learning is done poorly or without care, it can detract from the learning experience; like going to give a lecture without actually planning for it.
    As educators it is our responsibility to show students how to use these tools that are capable of enhancing their learning in a way that is responsible. I attempt to not bring my bias about technology (particularly social media) as a potential for distraction because I understand that there is a difference in the context and applications. I still don’t text and drive and I still get on my wife’s case for Facebooking/answering emails at the dinner table.

  2. I enjoyed the video we watched last class too. It really is amazing how technology and how we communicate with one another have changed! Technology can definitely be distracting, it’s true (I doubt that everyone looking at their phones is reading literature or writing thoughtful blog posts). But it can be used constructively too, as you mentioned. Like with any media, it’s all about how you use it!

  3. As a mechanical engineering, I couldn’t agree with you more about having a real-world context and being hands on. There is a difference between being able to memorize equations and steps to solve a specific style problem and being able to solve any problem put in front of you. I think having well developed hands on projects is an important key in getting to the later. I feel that part of the issue with doing these projects throughout a students education comes down to the amount of time it takes to teach students the ‘nuts and bolts of engineering’ so that they can use it to solve problems.

    Now to play Devil’s advocate on real-world projects in classes…
    The issue with real-world problems is that they are always changing which makes it hard for professors to keep up with developing the curriculum, especially if they are performing research. A second issue is that sometimes these real-world problems require some specific knowledge and having students learn these details could distract from the rest of the material in the class.

  4. I absolutely agree with your perspective of hands-on learning. I find that both I and students benefit more from the application of concepts as opposed to one-way lecturing or test-taking. I imagine this is especially so in your field.

  5. Katy,

    It is up to us to show the way forward in bringing real world engineering to the classroom. Even better, bring our classes into the real world, and make the world our engineering classroom! I don’t know how to do this exactly, but every time I inch closer to it, I feel a small victory. Thank you for sharing your observations!


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