Leadership Institute brings university educators together
CEDAR CITY–Southern Utah University experts recently hosted experiential education leaders from several universities to share ideas on helping students through hands-on learning.
The Experiential Learning Leadership Institute (ELLI) at SUU held their first Leader’s Retreat in February with 40 educators from nine institutions meeting among the scenic landscapes surrounding Moab.
“There is a big difference between a student gaining experience and experiential learning,” said Patrick Clarke, Dean of the School of Integrative and Engaged Learning at SUU, in a release. “Experiential learning is being able to demonstrate the intentionality in the way a student approaches the experience, how they learn by meeting objectives, document, describe what they would do different next time, and formally work through all the processes they are presented — this is what employers and others are looking for.”
Founded in 2015, ELLI has held three national conferences for experiential education leaders, with their fourth annual conference coming in June. But the Moab leadership retreat was different, Clarke said.
“At our ELLI conferences, experiential education leaders from institutions across the country come and hear from experts in the field about strategies they can use to implement experiential education in their schools,” he said. “We thought it would be a good idea to have a retreat where these institutions could work on actual plans, implement programs and get advice from other experts in the field.”
Representatives from New York, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho and Utah came to the ELLI retreat with an idea they wanted to implement and left Moab with deliverable plans they could take to their supervisors.
The University of Tennessee at Martin sent a representative from four of their five colleges to the ELLI retreat. Charles Bradshaw, an associate professor of English, said UTM is working on a campus-wide initiative where every student engages in experiential learning before graduating.
“The SUU staff at the Moab ELLI retreat were top-notch. I’ve been to other conferences that just scratch the surface of what is possible with learning objectives and assessment, but this one was really well done,” he said. “It was just what we needed — a really great couple of days with some really sharp and pragmatic people.”
Clarke and many of the experts at ELLI conferences and retreats are members of the National Society for Experiential Education, founded in 1971. Last year, SUU was honored with becoming the permanent home for the archives of the NSEE that had previously been stored at multiple sites around the country.
In 2015, SUU received the NSEE Outstanding Experiential Education Program Award for exceptional commitment to experiential learning.
Proposals and registrations are now being accepted for the 2018 ELLI Annual Conference taking place June 25-28 in Flagstaff, with an experiential excursion to the overwhelming colors and erosional forms that make up the Grand Canyon. For more information, visit suu.edu/siel/elli, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach SUU ELLI by phone at (435) 586-7808.