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The Rise and Fall of Experiential Education at an Australian University Thomas F. Patterson, Jr. Visiting Fellow Univ. of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia September 1989 - May 1990 December 2003 – April 2004 True or False Australia is an island, a continent and a country.

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the rise and fall of experiential education at an australian university

The Rise and Fall of Experiential Education at an Australian University

Thomas F. Patterson, Jr.

Visiting Fellow

Univ. of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

September 1989 - May 1990

December 2003 – April 2004

true or false
True or False
  • Australia is an island, a continent and a country.
  • Australia’s population is close to that of the US.
  • Australia’s land mass is close to that of the US 48 contiguous States.
  • Australia has one of the world’s largest percentage of rural (‘outback’) inhabitants.
  • Australia is one of the oldest, flattest and driest places on earth.
  • Australia’s official national colors are the same as UVM’s.
  • Australia has been described as the world’s first truly multicultural society.
  • Australia has a higher literacy rate than the US.
true or false4
True or False
  • The word ‘Vermont’ has a negative connotation among Australian sheep farmers.
  • Baseball and American Football are huge sports in Australia
  • The Tasmanian Devil is extinct.
  • Australians have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
  • Emu’s are flightless birds.
  • Kangaroos can be seen bounding down the streets of Sydney.
  • Of the ten most deadly snakes in the world, seven are found in Australia.
hawkesbury agricultural college
Hawkesbury Agricultural College
  • Founded 1891
  • Richmond NSW
  • Known for: “Discipline, practicality, application of knowledge, and maleness”
  • 1976 -- College of Advanced Education
  • 1989 – U Western Sydney
1970s
1970s
  • Faculty
    • Basic sciences
    • Agricultural sciences
  • Production oriented
  • Syllabuses, courses, lectures, exams and grades
the pendulum of practice
The Pendulum of Practice

Book

Learning

Experiential

Learning

hawkesbury bibliography
Hawkesbury Bibliography
  • Progressive Education – John Dewey
  • Systems Thinking – Habermas, Ulrich, Wilson
  • Soft Systems Methodology – Peter Checkland
  • Action Research – Kurt Lewin, Kemmis & McTaggart
  • Organizational Learning – Chris Argyris
  • Self-Directed Learning – Malcolm Knowles
  • Experiential Learning – David Kolb
hawkesbury experiential learning tenets
Hawkesbury Experiential Learning Tenets
  • Students …
    • are responsible for their own learning
    • learn by reflecting on experience
    • move from dependent to independent to co-dependent learning with faculty
    • progress by demonstrating competencies in periodic formative and summative evaluations
      • Autonomous learning
      • Effective communication
      • Systems thinking
the systems agriculture program
The Systems Agriculture Program
  • Bachelors in Systems Agriculture
  • Learn how to manage complexity and change
  • Based on learning-by-doing (experiential learning)
experiential learning
Experiential Learning
  • Learn in groups (includes a faculty member)
  • Establish a learning contract
  • Keep a portfolio
  • Draw on resources
  • Learn about learning
  • Work with people
  • Write, reflect, present
course progression
Course Progression
  • Phase I – introduction of concepts, methods. 70% faculty designed projects, 30% students
  • Phase II – OCE, 60/40%  100% student designed projects
  • Phase III – 100% student designed projects. Career goals
the truest test of an undergraduate academic experiment
The “Truest Test” of an Undergraduate Academic Experiment
  • Is not found in …
    • Results of course evaluations
    • Percentage of graduates placed in jobs
    • Number of graduates receiving graduate degrees
    • Accreditation of academic programs
    • Faculty research, service, publications, awards and promotions
hard soft
Chemistry

Biology

Botany

Agronomy

Horticulture

Agr. Economics

Animal Science

Brainstorm

Facilitate

Communicate

Work with people

Improve real world problems

Systems Thinking

Hard Soft
leadership
Leadership
  • International attention and praise
  • Solid theoretical base
  • Growing cadre of successful graduates
today
Today
  • Systems Agriculture Program
    • Steady decline in student #’s
    • Cuts to faculty & staff
    • Endless restructuring
    • Declining resources
    • Talk of program termination
inherent downfall factors
Inherent Downfall Factors
  • Resistance to change (non believers)
  • High student drop-out rate
  • Higher Education model still evolving
  • Experiential learning
    • Inefficient from UWS viewpoint
    • difficult to measure
    • Requires constant monitoring & maintenance
hawkesbury context
Hawkesbury Context
  • Leadership – visionary and aloof
  • Student body changing
    • Few interested in agriculture
    • Commute from home
    • Hold part-time jobs
  • Agriculture faculty marginalized
  • New faculty ---Ph.D’s and research
what can we learn about experiential learning in higher ed
What can we learn about experiential learning in higher ed?
  • Long term visionary leadership
  • Mature-aged students did better with experiential learning
  • Attracts students who learn through application of theory, practical experience
  • Does not fit will with traditional measures
  • Listening to feedback critical