Experiential Learning

student presenting a poster at the annual research summit
A&S students are encouraged to enhance their education through hands-on research experiences.

The College of Arts and Sciences offers numerous opportunities for students to obtain real-life experiences in the classroom and through co-curricular activities that enhance their education and prepare them for careers.

Co-curricular programs range from undergraduate research experiences to education abroad programs. Each one works in tandem with academic programs to allow students to develop career-readiness competencies that serve as a foundation for solving world problems and communicating knowledge. This form of learning is experience-based (experiential learning).

The A&S Office of Experiential Learning Services is available to help students identify these opportunities on and off-campus and guides them through the application process.

Seminars and workshops are also offered to provide guidance and resources to prepare students for success in these experiences. Individual appointments may be scheduled to create personal development plans that incorporate experiential learning programs into academic plans. Assistance is also available to coordinate logistical issues such as housing, funding, course credit, and travel related to each experience.

Career-Readiness Competencies

Career-Readiness Competencies are the skills that colleges and employers have identified as necessary preparation for students as they enter the workforce. Co-curricular experiences provide an environment for students to practice and develop these skills.

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.
  • Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
  • Teamwork/Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure and can negotiate and manage conflict.
  • Digital Technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.
  • Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.
  • Career Management: Identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.

Featured Programs

Featured programs designed to provide these experiences include the following:

student with arms stretched over a cliff
The College of Arts & Sciences offers several faculty-led study abroad programs each year, in places like Italy, Oxford, and Spain.

Education Abroad

Students in the College of Arts & Sciences are encouraged to participate in one of the programs offered by Capstone International Center’s Education Abroad Office. Whether it is a faculty-led program scheduled during the summer or an entire semester of courses at another university, students may obtain course credit and valuable learning experiences that help to develop cultural awareness.

Students may select from programs that are related to their major or topics of personal interest. Internships and research experiences abroad are also available. It is important that students discuss course credits and timing of education abroad programs with their A&S academic advisor early in the planning stages to get the most out of their experience abroad.

Internships

Internships provide a way for A&S students to obtain work experience in career fields of interest. They offer an excellent opportunity to learn more about the types of careers that are available while providing a way to network with professionals. While some A&S programs strongly encourage or require students to participate in an internship program, all students should seek these opportunities during their college career.

Academic credit may be granted for internship experiences with prior approval. The A&S Office of Experiential Learning can assist students in determining possible options for obtaining credit.

Many internship opportunities are posted through Handshake, a service provided by the UA Career Center. Students may also find opportunities through faculty referrals, networking opportunities, and company/organization websites.

Successful internship searches require lots of preparation. The Career Center offers resources and guidance for creating resumes and interview skill development. Seminars and workshops are also offered. Additionally, career fairs offered throughout the year include employers who are seeking college interns for their company.

Scholarships and stipends are offered to support internship experiences. Applications and process details are posted on the UA Career Center website.

Leadership Opportunities

Campus organizations are managed by students and provide excellent opportunities to practice and develop leadership skills throughout the college experience. In addition, many campus offices hire students to serve as program ambassadors or program peer leaders. The College of Arts & Sciences offers the following leadership experiences for our students:

In addition, students may obtain leadership experience through UA Student Government Association (SGA) and The Source, which connects students with campus organizations.

Research

A&S students are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research opportunities, which are available for all majors. Opportunities include positions in research labs, scholarly research projects, and data collection. Students work with faculty and graduate students for entire semesters or may even continue for several years. The College of Arts and Sciences Support for Undergraduate Research (ASSURE) provides funding and support for student research and encourages students to present their work to other students and scholars.

The AS 103: Introduction to Research & Creative Scholarship Opportunities (INTRO) course is an introduction to research basics and provides opportunities to explore research opportunities. The University also offers the Emerging Scholars Program, which provides similar instruction and support for research throughout campus.

Service Learning

Numerous opportunities are available to serve others through service and leadership projects incorporated into courses or through student organizations and programs. These programs provide meaningful experiences to learn about community needs, cultural issues, diversity challenges, and teamwork — all of which are included in the Career-Readiness Competencies.

The Center for Service and Leadership is UA’s support center for service learning. It strives to develop community-university partnerships and offers diverse engagement opportunities for students. Student leaders often develop and manage events for UA students such as Alternative Spring Breaks and Beat Auburn Beat Hunger.

The College also encourages students to continue their service through organizations such as Teach for America and The Peace Corps. Information sessions are offered during the fall semester to prepare students for the application process.