What is Experiential Learning?
According to Learn and Serve America National Service Learning Clearinghouse, experiential learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.
How You Can Benefit
Experiential learning enables students to apply course concepts to a real life experience that meets a community need and to reflect upon all aspects. Course objectives and student community work are fundamentally integrated throughout the semester. The basic aim of service learning is two-fold: first, that students’ service will heighten the understanding of central academic themes, goals, or subject matter in their courses; second, that the academic course content will facilitate students’ ability to reflect in deep.
Experiential Learning Requirements
All current freshmen and incoming students enrolled at Villa Maria College must complete a minimum of two dedicated experiential learning courses during their tenure as a student.
All service learning requirements are designed in support of Villa Maria College’s mission and core values.
Experiential Learning Mission Statement
The mission of the experiential learning component at Villa Maria College is to incorporate direct community service within the academic experience at the college, thus enhancing the rigorous and enriching educational experience. Through service, the student is given the opportunity to live out the Catholic/Franciscan ideals of the college and put into practice the core values of respect for human dignity, compassion, transformation, solidarity with the poor and justice and peace.
Experiential Learning Vision Statement
Villa Maria College students will be transformed by meaningful experiential learning experiences to become men and women who promote a more just society and empower others to do the same. Students will be able to reflect upon and express how the reciprocal relationships between academics and service learning experiences have helped them not only better understand course content but also become more aware of the needs of others.
Benefits of Experiential Learning
Research clearly demonstrates that experiential learning has many benefits to students on many different levels. Click here to learn more.
I have found Service Learning to be an indispensable tool in the classroom. It has made ethical theories and concepts concrete and real for students and has helped to make the core values and Franciscan heritage of the college practical and applicable in the real world. Our students are exposed to our community and gain an appreciation for its diversity. They are challenged to make positive and life-long contributions to the betterment of our society. — Dr. Don Monnin Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies
Hard at Work
Check out the Villa students making a difference in their community!
I helped the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry by sorting through the donations that would soon be given to local families in need. By working in the food pantry, I gained a new appreciation for what I have at my own home and for being able to easily purchase my own groceries. I knew there were people struggling with simple tasks, like purchasing their own food, but it’s a whole new experience when you see it first-hand.
Roswell Park is so important to the community because it provides life-saving cancer treatment and cutting-edge research that is making positive impacts on the cancer community. I was able to help the Vice President of Development, who is responsible for the donations that keep the hospital running. I worked in teams with other volunteers, which taught me how to work effectively in groups and to be accepting of everyone.
For some of my service learning hours, I participated in the Festival of Trees. This event has been an annual tradition in downtown Buffalo for 26 years. The event is supported and organized by the community and is the main holiday fundraiser in support of Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. The Festival of Trees has been helping set the standard in pediatric medical care by donating proceeds to help improve important programs, improve facilities and purchase groundbreaking technology.
Theater of Youth is extremely important to the community. It is a non-profit professional theater company dedicated to enriching the lives of children through education and entertainment. It has operated for over 40 years, providing a unique cultural experience that aims to instill an appreciation for the arts. The Theater of Youth is very family oriented and, through my experience, I was able to interact with audience members before and after the show, providing them with information to help improve their experience.
Shea’s Performing Art Center is a prestigious historical site that’s well known in WNY for its rich architecture. It’s an important place for people to see and visit. I worked with Shea’s Restoration Project, which hosts tours for members of the National Historic Preservation Society. My role was to lead tours and demonstrate some of the restoration and painting techniques used throughout the theater. The service learning experience helped me professionally and academically by giving me the chance to apply what I was learning in my historical preservation class in a real-life setting.
Service learning is important for our community because helping an organization can improve the lives of so many people in the community. I volunteered at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, where I helped the staff perform vital services and provide the best patient care possible. One of my favorite tasks was to photograph patients with Sabretooth, the Buffalo Sabres’ mascot. Capturing a moment of complete joy on the children’s faces was priceless. I was also able to photograph Halloween events or patients with football players were life changing events. I am thankful I was able to be there to capture those moments. It’s all about giving back, especially when you’re helping someone in need.
My service learning experience impacted my life positively by showing me that I could not only help the Olmsted Parks, but also the entire city of Buffalo. By photographing Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy events, I was able to help portray what the Parks are about and all they have to offer to the people of Buffalo.
Tunes4Food is a service learning project that’s part of Student Voice/Future Schools Network, Inc. Tunes4Food has twice been recognized by the New York State Education Department, and I have had the privilege of performing with the organization since 2011. Each event has helped raise money for food banks in various cities throughout the U.S. I used the talents I was born with help families put food on their tables. From working with Tunes4Food, I’ve learned the importance of the Food Banks in their communities.
Need More Info or Assistance?
Director of Experiential Learning, Internships & Service Learning