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Whitman Recognized for Experiential Learning Successes

Whitman's leading role in national conversations about liberal arts education has been recognized by a new report on experiential learning.

The report, "Best Practices in Experiential Learning at Liberal Arts Institutions," conducted by Hanover Research, selected Whitman as one of four "exemplar institutions" to serve as case studies. The report highlighted unique ways Whitman provides students with access to high-impact experiences.

The rapid growth and success of the Whitman Internship program, which provides funding for students participating in unpaid internships, was one force behind Whitman's inclusion in the report. The student-driven format of popular community service programs was another.

Kimberly Rolfe, director of business engagement at the Student Engagement Center, provided information to the researchers about Whitman's programs. Victoria Wolff, internship coordinator at the SEC, was also tapped for comment. The SEC operates most of the experiential learning opportunities at Whitman.

Wolff told the researchers that surveys of students who had taken advantage of the Internship Program found that their experiences were professionally relevant, influenced their career goals, and correlated strongly with their academic focuses.

The growth of the SEC over the past four years, Rolfe said, has been directed by students and their interests, allowing programs to spread organically. "If you build it right and tap into where those positive experiences lie, it really does grow very organically," she told researchers.

The report, which was prepared for an unidentified college in New England, "focused on administrative structures, internship program management, student engagement and marketing, implementation strategies, and the relationship between liberal arts skills and the current job market" and was completed in April 2015.

Published on May 5, 2015
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