The Rise and Fall of Experiential Education at an Australian University - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Name these famous Australian Icons:

  5. 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

  6. 1970s • Faculty • Basic sciences • Agricultural sciences • Production oriented • Syllabuses, courses, lectures, exams and grades

  7. Late 1970s

  8. The Pendulum of Practice Book Learning Experiential Learning

  9. “As you know them in school…”

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. The Systems Agriculture Program • Bachelors in Systems Agriculture • Learn how to manage complexity and change • Based on learning-by-doing (experiential learning)

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Accolades and DiscontentA prophet in his own land…

  17. Chemistry Biology Botany Agronomy Horticulture Agr. Economics Animal Science Brainstorm Facilitate Communicate Work with people Improve real world problems Systems Thinking Hard Soft

  18. Leadership • International attention and praise • Solid theoretical base • Growing cadre of successful graduates

  19. Downfall

  20. 1995

  21. Today • Systems Agriculture Program • Steady decline in student #’s • Cuts to faculty & staff • Endless restructuring • Declining resources • Talk of program termination

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. Not in Danger…