Experiential Learning Opportunities
The Brandeis Events calendar lists on-campus events throughout the year, some of which may be useful as Experiential Learning Opportunities. Specific types of Experiential Learning Opportunities – such as Small Group Discussions, visits to the University Archives, interviewing a professor, and exploring other courses – are outlined below in greater depth.
UWS instructors could encourage first year students to sign up for one or more of the approximately 15 faculty-led Small Group Discussions. These are typically held from late September to early November in the Fall semester, and from early February to early April in the Spring semester. The First Year Experience committee uses Slate to invite all first year students to sign up directly for these groups of 8-10 students, led by faculty from all divisions.
- Go to this folder in the UWP admin's Google Drive. If you need access, request it.
- Right-click (control-click on Mac) the file Brandeis Scavenger Hunt and Make a Copy.
- Right-click the copy you just made and Move it to your own Google Drive. Then customize it as you wish.
- Thanks to Elissa Jacobs for this activity!
Experiential Learning: Brandeis Scavenger Hunt
As part of the First Year Experience, all UWS students are expected to engage in an Experiential Learning activity. For our class, I would like you to complete this Brandeis Scavenger Hunt!
Some of you have been on campus for one or more semester, while others might be on Brandeis’s campus for the first time. Either way, there is so much more to learn about the campus and the people that make up the university community. You can do the Scavenger Hunt alone, but I encourage you to do it in pairs or groups so you can get to know your classmates; either way, you should write the answers yourself. Your Scavenger Hunt is due by the end of the third week of classes, by Friday, 2/4, at 11:59 pm using the Google Form (see LATTE for link).
- Talk to a professor (current, past, or other), graduate student / teaching assistant, or staff member (an advisor, a librarian, a dean, etc.). Ask them something about writing (e.g., How has writing contributed to your career? What is particularly important about writing in your field? Do you like writing? Why/why not?). Summarize their response / your subsequent conversation.
- Brandeis has lots of art, both at the Rose Art Museum, but also scattered around campus. There are many outdoor sculptures, as well as art hanging on the walls in many campus buildings (e.g., https://www.brandeis.edu/arts/sculpture.html). Find a piece of art on Brandeis’s campus (ideally something that you connect with in some way) and spend a few minutes observing it. Read the description of it (assuming you can find it). What do you like / not like about it? Why?
- Include a photo of the art / a photo or selfie of you with the art.
- There are many things to discover in the Brandeis Library! Find the following things / places - You are allowed to ask for help, including at the info desk! Upload two photos / selfies of some of these places on the google form (3a and 3b). Be as silly as you want with your photos (and avoid using a flash on indoor paintings).
- Model of the Roman Forum
- Writing Center
- Meditation Room
- Bike Desks
- Old phone booths
- While you are at the library, find the following book:
When you find the book, notice what image is attached to the book – come tell me in class and you’ll get a prize!
- Bonus: Find other fun and unexpected places on campus!
- Swing near Brown Soc. Sci. Center
- Mandel Center Roof Garden
- Peace Circle Mosaic (near Pearlman)
- Wetlands Behind the Library
- Chapels Pond
- Views of the Boston Skyline
The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department houses Brandeis University's rare and unique primary sources. Staff offer instruction sessions for a variety of departments across campus, and are happy to tailor instruction sessions to your UWS themes and content. Staff can also teach sessions focused on Brandeis University history or developing transferable skills such as analysis and synthesis, working with instructors to meet the desired goals for that session. They offer a wide range of active learning exercises that allow students to connect with primary source materials that are relevant to their classes and research needs as a way to improve and help develop their ability to create original research questions. For examples of how materials from University Archives & Special Collections can be used in conjunction with UWS course offerings, please see below:
- Darwinian Dating: Students can work with books by Darwin (including On the Origin of Species) in pairs to do a book exploration and present their findings in class.
- Guilty Pleasures and Pop Culture: Students can review Brandeis yearbooks and explore how pop culture and fads play out through the years.
- Our Bodies, Our Selves: Students can review issues of Disability Studies Quarterly (founded and edited by Sociology Professor Irving Zola) and write response papers after analyzing articles.
- Animals in a Human World: Students are given an overview of the use of animal products throughout the history of bookmanship.
This list is not comprehensive; rather, it is meant to highlight some ideas for different classes. Please contact Chloe Gerson, Reference and Instruction Archivist (781-736-4657 / email@example.com), to discuss ways in which University Archives and Special Collections material could be integrated into your class(es).
If you are interested in interviewing a Professor, coordinate with the UWP office to prevent the same instructors being approached repeatedly from different seminars. Contact UWP@brandeis.edu or x66UWP.
This assignment teaches students about disciplinary differences and gets them thinking about how their UWS skills will transfer to other kinds of academic writing.
- Students choose a professor from a course they are taking now—someone with whom they have not taken a course before. (Discourage them from interviewing someone who is already familiar to them).
- Give students questions to ask in their own words, or brainstorm questions in class. For example:
- What does good professional writing look like in your field? What is the general format?
- What kinds of writing do you expect of students in your classes? Do they generally meet your standards? What do you find that they can and cannot do well?
- What would you like students to learn in UWS to succeed in your classes and your field?
- If students want to interview the same person, they can work together in groups of two or three.
- Distribute a sign-up sheet and have students indicate first, second, and third choices. Assign professors so that the same person does not end up being asked to do this multiple times. Check with the University Writing Program in case other seminars are also doing this activity so you can coordinate.
- Before allowing students to approach professors, email them yourself to let them know this is happening and give them a chance to opt out.
- Sample Assignment: Between 1/27 and 1/31, interview one of your instructors during office hours about the role that writing has played in his or her life and career. If you are taking the same class as a peer you may interview the instructor with one or two classmates (I will collect the names of professors you plan to interview and match you up). Write up your notes in one double-spaced page that is due on Friday, 1/31 to LATTE by 11:55 PM.
- Sample Reflection Prompt: Write up your notes from your faculty interview in one double-spaced page that is due on Friday, 1/31 to LATTE by 11:55 PM. In particular, please answer the following questions:
- What did you learn about the role of writing in your instructor's career?
- How might you similarly use writing in your academic and professional life?
- What was most surprising?
- Did this experience make you more likely to talk to this instructor again?
- Did this experience make you more likely to go to office hours of other instructors? Why or why not?
- Have students read and comment on each other’s posts on LATTE and spend about fifteen minutes discussing the experience in class.
This exercise encourages students to explore areas of interest, particularly in subjects that they have not studied. Students should select a course that interests them, even—or especially—if they had not considered taking a course in that department. Remind students that they are members of an intellectual community. For four years at least, they are card-carrying intellectuals. Why not take a peek into what is happening in other classrooms?
- Check with the Director of First-Year Writing and the UWP office to find out if others are using this assignment. A good deal of organizational work is required, and it may be worth teaming up with another instructor to share tasks.
- Search the Registrar’s Course listings for large introductory or survey courses with a minimum of 35 students taught in lecture-style classrooms. Introductory courses in psychology and sociology are good choices. Also film courses such as Classic Hollywood Cinema in the English department and others in American Studies, etc. A large art history class is another possibility. Encourage science-, social-science-, and computer-oriented students to explore the humanities. A tie-in with the theme of your UWS is a bonus.
- It may be wise to do this sooner rather than later in the semester, when both your students and the students in the class are new to the subject. However, doing this later in the semester works too.
- Compile a list of possibilities in a spreadsheet (see example) with the professors’ email addresses, course names, schedules, and room numbers. Check in with the instructors before allowing your students to visit their classes. A few will prefer not to participate. Others will permit visitors on some days but not others. Leave space on your spreadsheet for notes like these which you will want to relay to your students.
- Sample Assignment: "Choose a course that interests you in a field of study that you have not yet explored. After visiting the class, write a brief report on LATTE." See suggestions and restrictions at bit.ly/UWS16aExplore. It might be wise to re-check the course time and location in Workday before you go.
- Sample Reflection Prompt:
- What was the topic of the class on the day when you were present?
- What aspects of this sparked your interest? Why?
- Was there material that was not clear to you?
- What were your impressions of the professor?
- Would you consider taking a course like this in the future--why or why not?
- Set a deadline for doing this assignment. Then encourage students to read each other’s posts on LATTE and set aside at least fifteen minutes of class time for discussion.