Project-Based Experiential Learning: It’s Not Just for Kindergartners

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Project-based, integrated learning models that derive from John Dewey’s “learn by doing” educational philosophy have been widely applied to early childhood education in the U.S. for more than a half century. However, this learner-centered, “real-life” approach to education frequently gives way to its philosophical opposite (teacher-centered, test-driven) as the child moves into secondary and tertiary education settings. This paper explores the application of project-based, experiential learning to the research university educational experience through two programs that I have developed at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: the Burch Fellows Program (http://www.burchfellows.unc.edu/) and “Where in the World Are We?” (www.studyabroad.unc.edu/witwaw) , both of which allow undergraduates to pursue their passions, talents, and curiosity about the world in ways and in places that would not be possible through a regular university course or typical summer experience.


Keywords: Project-Based Learning, Experiential Learning, Off-campus Learning, Research University
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. Robert Allen

James Logan Godfrey Distinguished Professor of American Studies, History and Communication Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Robert C. Allen has taught for 28 years at the Univ. of N.C. at Chapel Hill, where he also served for 12 years as Dean of the University's Honors Program. During his term as dean he led the effort to rehabilitate a historic building as the university's Center for Undergraduate Excellence and created a number of innovative curricular and enrichment programs, including the Burch Fellows Program and Burch Field Research Seminar Program. An expert on American popular entertainment, he has authored or edited nine books and more than 30 articles/book chapters on the history of American popular culture, and has held fellowships from the National Humanities Center, Am. Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He currently holds a Digital Humanities Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ref: L09P1012