Experiential learning in communities: developing and testing a framework for evaluation

Developing a framework for evaluating experiential education.

Team Members :  Andrew Cross, Simon Beames, Margaret Petrie, Rebecca Samaras, Yula Hildmann


Experiential learning is central to learning both inside and outside the University. It can happen in many different formats and places, and the benefits for students (particularly in a community service learning context) are well known. However, experiential learning is by its very nature messy and non-linear. As a result there are no effective frameworks to evaluate and assess different approaches to experiential education. There are significant opportunities to embed experiential learning more effectively in the curriculum (aligned to the University’s strategic plan), however this needs to be done using an evidence based approach.

In this project we will develop a framework for evaluating experiential education, and then test it on three University courses that have experiential learning at their heart. The three courses are all well established (over 9 years old), cover a range of different disciplines (GeoSciences, Education and Law), and involve significant work with the local community. The project will test the effectiveness of the framework by assessing outcomes on current and past students from these courses, at the same time allowing us to evaluate how well experiential education works in these three very different contexts. The results will be used to develop guidance that will be used to design and scale experiential education across the University.

Final project report

Download the final project report (PDF)

Other project outcomes

Experiential education: Defining features for curriculum and pedagogy (23 Aug 2018) University of Edinburgh Teaching Matters blog