Some of our current lessons at BCIT are designed with experiential learning in mind. In fact our entire automotive program is comprised of experiential learning with the exception of the academic portion in automotive service technician diploma programs.
Now let’s look at how we will be structuring future academic programs in automotives to include the experiential learning. Math and Physics contains vast amounts of lectures and very little engagement element. Our thoughts are that if we utilized a “flipped classroom” element where the students do theoretical reading at home, then we would build on the reading elements in class utilizing fun exercises. An example of this would be, students reading about “friction” and then creating models in the classroom showing different properties of friction and its effects on other physical properties. For our business and customer relations portion of the academics, the students would read up on theories on a given subject matter and we would build on the theories during class. An example of this would be, self-study on customer interaction followed by in class interacting with each other, reflecting on what works well and personal comfort, discomfort zones. In class exercises would concentrate on overcoming barriers to deeper understanding through collaborative work, using the instructor only as guidance.
Recently, as an instructor I took a heavily lecture filled course and created an element of experiential learning where the students had to research electronics and it’s functions in late model vehicles. We discovered that most students carried out the exercise on their own vehicles and then presented on the subject in class. Classroom element of the conversation was very informal and engaging. We did not have any students falling asleep or texting this particular day as there was an element of personal pride at risk as they all tried to outdo each other. I wasn’t looking forward to delivering that course in its previous form, once we added the element of experiential learning it became fun for all. I can definitely say that deep cognitive learning took place that day and students will remember the material for years to come along with gaining important career knowledge.
Experiential learnings’ usage will continue to rise in the automotive industry; as emerging technologies demand higher level technicians. Automotive related repair concerns are more intermittent in nature, sparse and requires a great deal of critical thinking. Teaching students to fix something isn’t going to work, guidance to constructive thinking on the problem will, along with creating deeper understanding.