Experiential Learning should be the Future for MNSU

When we graduate from college, what are we going to put on our resumes? Most will include skills and experiences gained in college. 

Certainly, most will leave out  the names of the various courses they took. Even  if they did leave them in, most employers are sure to skim right over them. 

Employers are looking for the skill and experience  candidates bring to the table, not necessarily a candidate’s  book learning. 

A few programs at Minnesota State University, Mankato  took this to heart and created learning opportunities based on experience . 

The business department is one department on campus that has been working hard to instill the idea of experiential learning in a variety of ways.

One such example is the Integrated Business Experience, where students are put into groups of about 20 and forced to create their own business. This starts with creating roles within the company, moves to presenting to a bank for a real life loan, and ends with running the actual operations to make the money back and turn a profit all of which  goes to the charity of the business’s choice. 

Another example of the business department working hard to provide experiential-based learning is in its Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Located downtown just upstairs from the Small Business Development Center, the CIE is constantly coming up with ways for entrepreneurship students to get out into the real world and learn by doing, rather than reading.

The value to students is immense, because it gives them a platform to mess up and guidelines on how to work, yet lets them figure it out mostly on their own. 

We as a university need continue to shift our focus from purely in-class learning to experiential learning for our students. 

When the focus is on the learning and verifiable proof of learning — rather than grades that come from the traditional lecture-study-test style of learning — there is much more to be learned and taken from the experience.

When the focus isn’t on memorizing (and instead on doing) students are more likely to retain knowledge. On top of the retention and learning experience garnered, students also gain real-world experience future employers are more likely to find attractive on a resume. 

If our motto is “Big Ideas, Real World Thinking”, then we should seek to bring the real world into our education.

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