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This issue of CDTL Brief on Engaging Students features articles by colleagues and a student on how to engage students in the learning process at different levels.

May 2009, Vol. 12 No. 2 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Maximising Opportunities for Experiential Learning at NUS
 
Raphael Ong
2nd-year student, Faculty of Science
 

Studying at NUS definitely has its perks. Apart from the core requirements that leads to a degree, NUS also has various programmes to augment the undergraduates’ learning experience. Some of the more beneficial programmes are those that centre on experiential learning. Undergraduates often praise the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) for providing them with an avenue to put theory into practice. They also talk about how the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) experience has benefitted those with an entrepreneurial inclination.

With a myriad of experiential learning programmes, how can NUS undergraduates fully maximise the opportunities available in NUS during their three to four years here? It is helpful for undergraduates to map a path for experiential learning, so as not to get lost in this plethora of experience-based learning opportunities. Here, I highlight three main motivations that could guide fellow undergraduates in mapping a path for experiential learning.

1. Cultural Immersion

Nothing beats widening one’s horizons through an overseas exchange opportunity. Embarking on the Student Exchange Programme (SEP), a Summer School or an Overseas Internship are just some ways to grow in maturity and achieve a greater sense of cultural and international awareness. In addition, participation in these programmes contribute to students’ ability to thrive in a foreign environment. This is definitely an experience to which every undergraduate should aspire.

2. Working Experience from Internships

An internship with a company is a sure way to practise skills learnt in the classroom. In addition, students get to hone their interpersonal and communication skills while picking up new skills on the job. This experience will also go a long way in preparing students for their first job after graduation. Although internships may not be compulsory for every student, the benefits of such experiences should be highlighted to all undergraduates.

3. Co-curricular Activities

Perhaps one of the most overlooked areas is participation in the university’s co-curricular activities (CCAs). Students who do not live in hostels may not have a direct incentive to participate in CCAs which provide excellent avenues to make friends who share the same interests, and develop time management and leadership skills.

All these experiential learning programmes enhance NUS undergraduates’ learning experience. However, to derive maximal enrichment in one’s undergraduate experience, how should one manage these opportunities? I suggest using either of the following two strategies: (1) to specialise or (2) to complement and diversify, in mapping a path for experiential learning. As such, students should either seek to enhance their understanding of a particular domain of knowledge and its related intricacies, or broaden their awareness of different disciplines and the world in general.

Personally, I have opted for the ‘complement and diversify’ approach and found it to be extremely enriching and useful in increasing my understanding of science beyond the core requirements.

I hope that this short commentary will shed light on how we can map a path for experiential learning and the key motivations that could be possibly used to guide undergraduates to achieve a holistic learning experience, culminating in a well-rounded university education.

 
 
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Inside this issue
Encouraging Youth Engagement in the Public Square
   
Designing Interactive Spaces for Teaching and Learning
   
Make Large Classes Engaging
With ‘Quick-ins’
   
Learning Spaces
   
Maximising Opportunities for
Experiential Learning at NUS