Founded in 1911, Wilfrid Laurier University is a multi-campus institution with over 23,000 students. An integral part of the Kitchener-Waterloo-Brantford communities, Laurier’s holistic approach to learning integrates innovative programming with hands-on experience outside the classroom. Students gain both the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the future and the inspiration to make their mark.
One of the ways that the university accelerates the progress of institutional, departmental, and academic aims is pairing in-class education with an integrated curricular and co-curricular learning model. Emphasizing guided student reflection on their experiences amplifies the impact of this model. A longstanding partner of Orbis, Laurier uses Outcome, our data-driven experiential learning solution, to concurrently empower future–ready students while delivering foundational metrics that support the university’s mission, vision, and values.
Laurier’s Focus on Experiential Learning & the Development of the Laurier Experience Record
The seeds for the Laurier Experience Record were sown in 2003, when the university began a co-curricular record, the first of its kind in Canada. The co-curricular record tracked engagement in activities and provided students with the opportunity to identify learning outcomes that were achieved. In 2017, under the direction of Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, now President of Wilfrid Laurier University, there was an organizational shift that deepened focus on, and investment in, experiential learning. One of the key initiatives in this shift was the evolution of the co-curricular record into the Laurier Experience Record.
The first step in this shift was the formation of a new unit, called ‘Experiential Learning & Career Development.’ Led by Jan Basso, Assistant Vice-President: Experiential Learning and Career Development, at Wilfrid Laurier University, this unit created and implemented initiatives focused on experiential learning as an integral component of each student’s career development. Foundational initiatives included the creation of a typology of experiential learning, the formation of a Laurier competency framework, the acquisition of Orbis’ Outcome software solution, and the ideation, branding, and ultimate launch of the Laurier Experience Record.
Using Outcome, Laurier was the first university in Canada to launch a student experience record, combining curricular and co-curricular student engagement in experiential learning. The university’s Experiential Learning & Career Development team integrated two campus-based co-curricular records (Waterloo and Brantford) into one institutional Laurier Experience Record as the foundation of this new vision. Outcome was configured as a centralized institutional resource to support Laurier’s strategic focus on experiential learning.
In the last few years, Wilfrid Laurier University has worked with Orbis to develop modules to support curricular experiential learning including course-based projects and experiences, Community Service-Learning, Social Work field education, Faculty of Education practicum placements, Kinesiology leadership experience – and more. In addition, every year an annual curricular experiential learning inventory is conducted which includes reviewing all course syllabi (approximately 4500) using Laurier’s experiential learning typology. Students enrolled in courses with experiential learning then have their activities imported for inclusion on their Laurier Experience Record. Data on co-curricular engagement such as student volunteer experiences, clubs and associations, student government, and on-campus employment experiences is also collected, reported, and validated. Laurier and Orbis continue to develop and enhance the Laurier Experience Record on an ongoing basis.
Powered by Experience, Reflection & Competency Identification
A significant advantage of the Laurier Experience Record is that nothing appears on the student’s published record unless the student has reflected on it. In life, everyone has experiences but taking the time to actively reflect enriches learning on the knowledge and skills developed through the experience and increases self-awareness. The university made the conscious choice to encourage student learning by limiting the publication of experiences to those with reflection on the Laurier Experience Record. . In addition, students identify the competencies gained in each experience, based on the Laurier Competency Framework, which helps them to articulate their skills to employers through resumés and interviews. From 2019-2020, in just one year, Wilfrid Laurier University tracked 52,000 student curricular experiences and 14,000 co-curricular experiences on the Laurier Experience Record, all of which contribute to preparing students for the future.
Delivering on Institutional Strategy – Today, Tomorrow, Together
The Laurier Experience Record aligns with the Laurier Strategy (2019-2024) and its theme of Future-Readiness which includes experiential learning and enduring skills. The impact of the Laurier Experience Record is significant in breadth – on students, on academic departments and for the institution at large. It is a learning resource that contributes to students’ understanding of self, their knowledge and skills development and their career decision making. In addition, it can inform curricular and co-curricular program development while also providing institutional metrics that contribute to student recruitment, government reporting, and institutional reputation. The Laurier Experience Record and Laurier’s focus on experiential learning contribute to developing future-ready students who will make positive contributions to the workforce and the communities in which they live.
Wilfrid Laurier University Contact
Jan Basso, AVP: Experiential Learning and Career Development
Zoe Mills, Communications, Content, & Brand Strategy, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Bill Heinrich, Orbis’s Director of Mindset, recently spoke at Brigham University’s Experiential Summit Series on the topic of delivering experiences where students focus on the experience and not just the grades. Watch his presentation, learn about his research and findings here.