Real-World Learning at Schulich
When it comes to giving students the tools they need for professional success, one of the very best is experiential learning.
At Schulich, we’re augmenting the knowledge our students learn in the classroom with hands-on work experience gained through internships, work placements and participation in real-world projects. Essentially, we’re giving students the opportunity to apply the knowledge they learn in class at real-world companies and organizations in order to enhance their employability and career readiness.
Overseeing this widescale transformation within our School is the recently established Professional Development and Experiential Education Office. The office is led by Associate Director Minerva Cernea, PhD, an expert in leadership effectiveness with extensive experience in international executive search. Minerva and her team are expanding experiential education and outreach at our School to ensure that our programs are career relevant.
In this month’s column by Dr. Cernea, we look at some of the ways we’re enriching the educational experience of our students by embedding experiential learning into our programs and generating new real-world learning opportunities that take place both inside and outside the classroom.
I invite you to learn more about the work we’re doing and how we’re intensifying experiential learning at Schulich and advancing the career readiness of our students.
Detlev Zwick, PhD
Dean, Tanna H. Schulich Chair in Digital Marketing Strategy
Schulich School of Business
Real-World Learning at Schulich
Learning is not a spectator sport.
That was one of the key messages in the highly influential book Education and Identity by educational pioneers Arthur Chickering and Linda Reisser.
Increasingly today, business education is going beyond classroom lectures by incorporating hands-on, real-world learning into the curriculum like never before.
Leading the charge at Schulich is the School’s Professional Development & Experiential Education (PD&EE) Office, created in October 2021 with a mission to develop and expand credit-based Professional Development (PD) courses for all graduate and undergraduate programs and to enhance quality opportunities for experiential education (EE) for all our students.
The School’s PD courses are focused on increasing students’ employability skills, professional presence, and career readiness. The PD course is offered in all the academic terms as an elective in the regular MBA program, as a mandatory course in the School’s new Tech MBA program, and as a mandatory course in the newly re-designed Master of Marketing program. We are currently working with the School’s Master of Management and the BBA programs to include the PD course as a core course. These PD courses ensure that our students learn and develop new skills required to succeed with their career planning, the recruitment process and their career progression.
As a pedagogical approach, EE facilitates the application of theories to concrete experiences generating the most retention of learning – what is sometimes called “learning that sticks”. In EE, the teacher is responsible for presenting opportunities for experiences and facilitating the experiential learning. EE opportunities are curricular, and can happen either in the classroom (e.g., case studies, role-playing, simulations, etc.), in the community (e.g., consulting projects) or in the workplace (e.g., internships, placements, and co-ops).
EE has become increasingly popular in Canada in recent years, with Canadian governments expanding the funding for EE initiatives, with universities and colleges integrating EE in their curricula, with work-focused EE becoming more and more popular, with an increased number of EE partnerships between corporate partners and universities, and with technology acting as an enabler of new EE opportunities (e.g., virtual internships, online simulations, and collaborative learning platforms).
Schulich’s EE initiatives align with these Canadian trends. Many of Schulich courses already incorporate EE opportunities, and promoting course-based EE as a norm rather than as an exception is a priority in our work.
Under community-focused EE, Schulich has several team-based consulting projects as credit-based courses embedded in various programs. In terms of work-focused EE, Schulich has 4-month elective credit placement courses for graduate and undergraduate students. And starting in summer 2024, a mandatory 8-month credit placement course will be offered to students in the School’s new Tech MBA program.
Ensuring quality and relevant work-focused EE opportunities for these placements is a priority for us. In 2022, Schulich signed a three-year MOU with CI Financial that creates annual internships for Schulich students, as well as four annual team consulting projects and on-campus panel discussions under the theme of “Investing in the Future”. The CI Financial collaboration is a role model for future industry partnerships because it not only gives our students the benefit of gaining real-world experience, but it also benefits the organization by giving it access to talent and strategic consulting. We are actively looking to expand these type of corporate EE collaborations and encourage any organization interested in partnering with us to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moving forward, we are focused on increasing the PD&EE Office capacity and resources to deliver more PD courses, to generate quality EE opportunities, and to develop more extensive and long-lasting EE corporate partnerships so that our students will be career ready the day they graduate.
Dr. Minerva Cernea
Associate Director, Professional Development and Experiential Education Office