How does experiential learning happen in the classroom?

Experiential Learning happens in the classroom by integrating civic engagement and academics through:

  • assigning small group service-learning and community-based research projects, 
  • designing Problem-Based Learning and simulations as instructional methods, and 
  • using “creative expression” or “research report” as performance evaluation. 

These types of activities and assignments increase understanding of course content while helping students develop knowledge, skills, and critical thinking to deal effectively with complex social issues and problems. For more information and innovative examples, visit:

 Academic Service Learning
Dr. Mary Jones' presentation on her experiential learning project.Find out how students in Biology Survey meet a general education requirement when engaged in an academic service learning project. The class partnered with a local wildlife sanctuary to create storyboards for the animals who live at the sanctuary to be incorporated into the Spirit of the Hills website and marketing materials. The course uses these student projects to study the concept of wildlife conservation which is a major learner outcome for the course.

Dr. Holly Downing - Discusses her experiential learning project.

Discover how students pursuing South Dakota Teacher Certification coursework incorporated experiential learning when developing cultural activities for The Western Heritage Museum and the historical Vore Buffalo Jump.  


 Community Based Research
Dr. Laura Colmenero-ChilbergWould you like to complete a general education requirement by taking a class that assigns teams of students to conduct a sociological experiment in the community? Engaging in this community based research project, students in Introduction to Sociology wandered into the community to test out how breaching social conventions impacted others, all the while challenging each individual’s level of comfort and use of critical thinking on your feet!


 Problem Based Learning
Check out how problem based learning occurs in the Developmental Psychology Life Span course. In teams, students are assigned a psychological issue (such as, develop a treatment plan for Alzheimer’s caregivers) and then spend class time analyzing the issue to develop a real world solution. Real application of knowledge creates significant learning experiences to use critical thinking and creative problem solving!


 Real World Simulations
Dr. Pam CarriveauMore than lecture and listening occurs when students are asked to engage in learning using real life simulations! To meet the social sciences general education goal, students in American Government were excited to be a part of a mock constitutional convention, where they proposed amendments, debated differing perspectives, and made critical decisions while learning the legislative process. Likewise, students in Local and State Government tracked actual bills through the real time legislative website in the state of South Dakota. Students connected with learning the legislative process by following one of the proposed bills of their choice. 

 Creative Expression
Creative expression mixed with active learning exploded in Elementary School Music Methods when students created innovative ways to integrate music through games, rhythm, stories, and songs.

Learn how faculty create xLearning in the classroom:

  • To find out how faculty design experiential learning activities and assignments, explore the professional development workshop presentation.  

Discover how experiential learning at BHSU happens beyond the classroom.

Experiential Learning Home