The value of the DLE arises from intentional learning, not solely from engaging in the experience. Because there are a myriad of ways that students can meet the 3 credit DLE requirement, there must be a common expectation of what learning should occur as a result of the experience. Both faculty and students must be aware of this expectation.
To that end, all DLEs must incorporate the following two student learning goals:
- Students will apply critical thinking skills and academic knowledge/concepts to develop effective responses to, and make informed decisions about, problems or situations encountered in the course of the learning experience.
- Students will engage in reflection, which incorporates self-assessment and analysis of the learning that has occurred as a result of their participation in the DLE. At a minimum, students will be expected to examine and demonstrate what they have learned as a result of the DLE, how they have learned it, the impact of their learning on their personal and professional growth, and how to apply that learning in other situations or contexts.
The following examples suggest contexts in which DLE might occur:
- Senior thesis
- Independent study
- Research experiences
- Field work
- Clinical experiences
- Student teaching
- Other courses that meet the DLE learning goals and requirements
It is expected that, as is usually done for all academic courses at UD, each DLE will have its own explicitly stated learning goals for participating students. The specific learning goals associated with a DLE should be developed by the instructor and/or with the faculty of a unit. The following are some examples of potential student learning goals, many of which incorporate general education goals.
At the end the course/credit experience, students will have demonstrated their ability to:
- Communicate ideas and the results of their work and resultant learning with clarity, concision, and precision.
- Design and implement a research or field project that addresses a problem with no known or widely-accepted answers.
- Identify, design and implement at least one strategy for testing a hypothesis that is congruent with accepted practices in the discipline.
- Draw original supportable conclusions from data collected to test a hypothesis.
- Use creative and critical thinking skills and knowledge of (insert language from discipline) to effectively contribute to a problem-solving team.
- Choose and apply appropriate technology/instrumentation/laboratory/computer skills/technology to devise solutions to problems or complex situations encountered in the course of this experience.
Faculty have a responsibility to insure that students are prepared to engage successfully in DLE; that is, that the student has been exposed to prior knowledge and experiences that they will need to successfully map their own learning. Similarly, while students are primarily the ones responsible for defining the problem and engaging in problem-solving strategies, this cannot be effectively accomplished without strong mentoring support from faculty.
Given this, the following are required elements of the DLE:
- The DLE must be supervised, with on-going faculty involvement and support. While this support may take many forms, it always includes:
- a written set of shared expectations about the quantity and quality of the experience and required products
- sufficient periodic meetings with the student(s) to assess progress, advances, and roadblocks
- feedback on the quality of the student(s) progress and intermediate products/assignments
- In addition to the requirement for reflective learning, students will be expected to produce at least one final product, as a result of the DLE. Examples of products include:
- Research papers
- Oral presentations
- Media presentations
- The expectations for student learning must be clearly established in the syllabi or otherwise communicated to the student in writing. The student’s work must be evaluated and a grade assigned. The grade should be based upon what the student has learned and how well the student has met the learning goals, not only how many hours were spent in the DLE.
- The DLE, particularly if it is integrated into a regular course, must be of sufficient depth and complexity to be worth the assigned number of academic credits.
The Undergraduate Studies Committee of the University Faculty Senate is satisfied that study abroad and service learning courses meet the learning outcomes and other requirements outlined for a DLE. Therefore, all students who successfully complete a University of Delaware study abroad or service learning course of at least three (3) credits satisfy their DLE requirement.
University policies in the Faculty Handbook set forth expectations that apply to some DLEs. See policies governing field experiences and service learning: http://www.udel.edu/provost/fachb/III-1-n-field.html.
Undergraduate Studies Committee
March 6, 2007