Setting and achieving experiential learning goals: maximizing the benefits of real-world experience

Unlock the full potential of experiential learning by setting and achieving clear goals. Learn how to make the most of real-world experiences in education.
August 14, 2023
6 min
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As an educator, you want your students to have the best possible training in your subject matter. Your goal isn’t just to ensure they learn to think critically and apply what they have learned across a variety of challenges and disciplines but also to prepare all learners for a career they’ll love. One way to do that is through experiential learning. The challenge, however, can be the difficulty in creating that clear roadmap that allows educators to implement experiential learning objectives.

Integrating work-based learning opportunities and connecting with employers can be time-consuming, and there are often disconnects between what companies need versus what’s actually taught in the classroom. 

The good news is that by setting experiential learning goals in tandem with current, real-world business and organizational needs, students and educators alike can be better prepared to deliver impactful, authentic, and ambitious solutions to address the workplace challenges of tomorrow.

What are examples of experiential learning goals? 

Experiential learning goals are educational objectives that are specifically designed to provide learners with real-world, hands-on experience. This allows them to gain relevant experience and be better prepared for the workforce while cultivating relevant, employable skills.

The experiential learning theory follows a cycle of four steps: 

An illustration of the experiential learning cycle. Source

As an example, Riipen Account Executive Michael Weber recently sat down with Corinne Bodeman, who teaches Entrepreneurship at Northern Michigan University, to detail her experience in working with experiential learning goals.

As part of her Riipen course, she structured the experience with a class of 27 students, breaking them down into small teams. Businesses were a mix of B2B and B2C and included projects from many different industries—including an  AR/AI product, an oil-based cleanser, and a video game. 

Through the experiential learning process, students worked together with the company and within their team to deliver a comprehensive marketing video presentation. In all, they faced thirteen different challenges which forced them to create thirteen unique and diverse solutions.

In doing so, they not only gained valuable industry insights but were also able to use the experiential learning situation as a learning experience that taught them critical problem-solving skills.

Real projects with real problems from actual companies gave them the opportunity to learn not just from a single industry but from the many different industries that their classmates were working on as well.

“The Riipen Marketplace is quite vast and allowed me to find the quantity of relevant businesses that I needed. We worked with thirteen businesses and were able to address thirteen different markets with thirteen different problems, challenges, and situations. Having so many real projects helped the students learn not just one industry but also the other industries that their classmates were working on as well.”

- Corinne Bodeman, Instructor at Northern Michigan University

To create this kind of outcome, however, it’s important to set experiential learning goals that are designed to mesh cohesively with current business challenges.

When considering experiential learning programs and evaluating opportunities, ensure that your plan is designed to meet the following criteria: 

1. Improving learning outcomes

By focusing on a key area where you want to improve learning outcomes, such as project management or public speaking, you’re able to clearly define the learning process and what success looks like. 

One example of an experiential learning outcome would be the creation of a pitch deck for a sales and marketing class. Creating the pitch deck would allow the students to gain direct experience across all the layers of the company’s presentation in order to help them secure funding.

However, the outcome is not only rooted in concrete deliverables, but also in the insights students gain as a result. Creating a pitch deck helps learners understand concepts in the context of an actual business, such as market fit, competitive intelligence, and revenue models. 

These types of experiential learning activities build on employable skills and help students develop competencies that better prepare them for their chosen career path.

2. Cultivating employable skills

In a recent Riipen case study, Dr. Nidhi Shah was able to connect with a Canadian infection control audit company Practice Health Check to help them create new onboarding materials that aligned with their vision and core values.

The company simply didn’t have the internal resources to execute the project, which gave Dr. Shah  the opportunity to align her course deliverables with the organization’s priorities, alongside regular check-ins with the COO to ensure everyone had the proper support and guidance. 

Through their work together, students were able to cultivate hard and soft skills that improved their employability, skills such as adaptability and critical thinking, and were also able to take the lessons they’d learned and apply them to their current  jobs, everything from tutoring to managing a pharmacy. 

This allowed them to not only get valuable real-world experience but also improve their current work situations through the experiential learning process.

Dr. Shah notes that, “There’s only so much you can glean from reading about a company on the internet. Students get more of a connection with a company and a better insight with a Riipen project.” Both the educator and the company are already looking to work together on another project this year. 

3. Making a positive impact on the industry

Experiential learning goals give you a set objective to work towards, which allows you to bridge the gap between textbook examples and real-world projects. Companies bring their challenges as students rise to meet them and educators facilitate and guide the process. 

As a result, students develop skills that can help them in their field while the companies they are assisting are able to solve challenges that they currently may not have the time or internal resources to address.

4. Helping students develop leadership and interpersonal skills

Experiential learning goals also allow students to improve their communication skills while taking on leadership roles in the development of a solution for a company in need of  their support.

The clear and direct expectations allow learners to build solutions that address the various challenges faced by companies in a collaborative and fast-paced atmosphere.

These types of projects also give learners the ability to reflect on how their decisions and choices shaped the end result and what they could improve upon, allowing for consistent reinforcement and reflection.

5. Reducing graduate unemployment and underemployment

Perhaps most importantly for new graduates, experiential learning bridges the gap between classroom material and real-world experience, better preparing students for the kinds of problems and challenges they’ll face in the context of serving an actual business or organization. 

Students directly gain employable skills, valuable life experience, and industry insights that move beyond experiential learning theory. Experiential learning may also open the door to networking opportunities, broadening students’ future career prospects and helping reduce graduate unemployment and underemployment.

Key takeaways

  • Experiential learning goals are uniquely suited to prepare students for real-world challenges they will encounter today and in the future. 
  • By properly aligning experiential learning education with active learning experiences, students build valuable testing, interpretive and reflective skills beyond the classroom. 
  • The right experiential learning goals examples allow students to take ownership and responsibility for their learning process. 

How to set experiential learning goals

In order to set actionable experiential learning goals for your students, follow these steps: 

1. Identify your learning objectives

Begin by defining your goal. What do you want your students to achieve? What will be the end result of the activity? What skills will learners come away with having completed it?

For example, as part of a Python programming course, students may work alongside a business to help them automate their sales data analysis and reporting.

By pulling from multiple data sets and creating a finalized report, they would be solving a very real and common problem for the business while seeing the real-world application of the skills they are developing. 

2. Assess your current skills and knowledge

Secondly, realize that there will be some gaps in what you know and can teach authoritatively versus what a given industry needs from their employees.

As no educator can be an expert in every conceivable industry or job role, being able to connect with industry leaders to determine where there is overlap and where more assistance or direction can prove invaluable to the experiential learning process.  

3. Determine your ideal outcome

Describe what students will be able to do after completing the project. What will the end result look like, and how will you know they have succeeded? Consider the types of activities and follow-up you can do that will further support and reinforce what they have learned. 

One marketplace to achieve all your experiential learning goals

As you can see, setting achievable experiential learning goals doesn’t have to be a giant, nebulous and unwieldy task. Right now, there are businesses who are eager to work with your students across a variety of fields and give them invaluable real-world experiences that will better shape and mold them into the future leaders and problem-solvers of tomorrow. 

Riipen gives you the freedom and flexibility to create experiential learning experiences that are uniquely designed to build valuable and practical skills with projects posted from out network of 27K employers. Through real-world experiential learning activities, students are able to put theory into practice, broadening their career prospects and future employability.

Connect with over 27,000 organizations on Riipen that are actively looking for ways to work with students and educators.

Riipen is designed to help facilitate the experiential learning experience by:

  • Enabling students to gain valuable learning experiences relevant to their career fields.
  • Assisting companies with current challenges in a supportive and collaborative environment.
  • Connecting educators to companies and allowing them to build relationships and networking opportunities.
  • Allowing for open feedback and discussion so that educators can see which students may need more support. 

Riipen gives you the flexibility to narrow down experiential learning activities by industry, location, category, and more.

Take a tour of the Riipen platform to see for yourself how it can help you create and deploy seamless experiential learning-based programs for your courses.

Experiential learning goals: FAQs

As part of developing a more experiential education, it’s understandable to have a few questions.

At Riipen, we’re here to help you every step of the  way by giving you the tools you need to maximize real-world experience. 

What are experiential learning goals? 

Experiential learning goals are objectives that are built around “learning by doing”. Through experiential learning, students develop crucial employability skills and are able to better reflect on what they have learned as well as its real-world applications.

What are the outcomes of experiential learning?

The experiential learning cycle aims to give all students a more adaptable, real-world skill set while helping them cultivate soft skills that directly impact their employability such as problem solving, creative thinking, communication and leadership.

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