By Janelle Krause, Realityworks Public Relations & Events Specialist
A recent eSchool News article noted that Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are shedding their stigma of being for students who lack ambition and becoming known for what they really are: opportunities for students to receive hands-on career training and academic education in demanding, high-quality courses. Part of this hands-on training comes from experiential learning, one of the hallmarks of CTE programs. Below, we explore three reasons why CTE programs and communities benefit from experiential education.
Reason 1: Experiential education promotes positive attitudes towards learning.
10 of 14 students who have been taught using the experiential education method express significantly more positive general attitudes towards their learning experiences. The logic is simple: people tend to do more of the activities they enjoy than the activities they do not enjoy. If we can get students to enjoy school and learning more, just think how much more they may learn. Additionally, we might then be able to reverse the trend of students becoming less engaged as they progress through their K-12 educational years.
Reason 2: Experiential education provides true-to-life experience that enhances career exploration.
Who hasn’t heard a small child say, “I want to be a (insert profession here) when I grow up?” More often than not, we see that idea change over the course a child’s life. Students can learn about careers through slideshows and lectures, but a greater connection is formed when they receive hands-on career experience. This hands-on experience not only prepares them for the technical aspects of future careers, but gives them a better understanding of what career area they may enjoy or excel in. Since the major focus of CTE is preparing youth for future careers, giving them real-life experience through experiential education could not be a better fit.
Reason 3: Experiential education helps create more engaged members of the workforce.
A Gallup poll of student support and experiential learning found that students who participated in work-based activities like experiential education, where lessons learned in the classroom were then experienced in a hands-on career setting, were up to two times more likely to be engaged later in life at work.
By establishing positive attitudes towards education, providing hands-on career experience and helping create more engaged members of the workforce, experiential education and CTE programs are helping create a stronger workforce – a workforce that, in time, will be better able to compete globally and fill the high-skill STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers that are anticipated to be in demand in just a few years.
Can you think of any benefits of experiential learning to add to this list? Share your feedback in the comments! The more we collaborate, the more we can break the stigma of CTE programs.