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Journal > Volumes > 46 (2015) / 4 (Winter)
Experiential Learning In and Out of the Classroom
Whitney A.M. Leeson, James M. Ogier, Kathryn Brammall

The Sixteenth Century Journal has a long tradition of encouraging and supporting exploration of the pedagogical interests of its audience, and innovations and trends in teaching theory generally. On 22 October 2015 SCJ  sponsored a roundtable panel at the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference annual meeting for the second year running, and this time it featured a discussion of the benefits of implementing experiential-learning activities into early modern history courses. The panel—organized by Gary G. Gibbs (Roanoke College)—consisted of Janis Gibbs (Hope College), Michael F. Graham (University of Akron), Greta Grace Kroeker (University of Waterloo), Jennifer D. Selwyn (California State University, Sacramento), and Myrna Ivonne Wallace Fuentes (Roanoke College), with Kathryn Brammall presiding as chair. Panel participants offered several definitions of experiential learning to a room full of listeners including learning by doing, learning affectively, learning collaboratively, and learning from experience. All of these definitions had in common an understanding that experiential learning is any type of learning that actively engages students with course content and requires them to apply knowledge gained via the classroom to various different, appropriate contexts. The panelists offered abundant evidence that if students are given the opportunity to explore a subject in early modern history, rather than just read about it in texts or hear about it in lecture, they will embrace new concepts, principles, and skills. Collectively, the panelists also stressed the fact that successful experiential learning assignments are well-engineered ones that require students to reflect upon and clearly articulate what they accomplished and how they did it.

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