Experiential learning at the University of Toronto Scarborough encourages students to apply their discipline-specific academic knowledge in inspiring and relevant ways.
Unique, hands-on learning experiences bring added depth and richness to post-secondary education.
“Experiential learning (EL) creates space for students to be curious, creative, engaged, and reflective as they explore new concepts and develop critical skills,” says Lynn Tucker, Associate Dean Experiential and Global Learning at the University of Toronto Scarborough. “EL offers a spectrum of ways that this can happen, and we have amazing and supportive faculty, staff, and community and industry partners, who are bringing the full range of possibilities into our classrooms.”
From co-op placements to community-based and global learning to entrepreneurial and innovation incubators, EL opportunities at U of T Scarborough are vast. “Rooted in shared values of inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, sustainability, and reciprocity, experiential learning can be found in all curricular and co-curricular departments — EL lives everywhere on campus,” says Tucker.
We chatted with two U of T Scarborough students about their EL experiences and takeaways.
JULIA MING LO
Fourth Year Neuroscience, Psychology, and Music & Culture Student
Can you tell us about your EL experience?
I did my co-op placement at SickKids’ Schachar-Crosbie Lab, which was perfect for me because it’s not only a research lab but also a psychiatry lab, so I got to combine my love for neuroscience and psychiatry.
How did your experience at SickKids enrich your education?
The Schachar-Crosbie Lab looks at neurodevelopmental disorders: attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome. I learned about these disorders in my clinical psychology class, but seeing real-life patients and being involved in the research process of these studies was cool. Moreover, it helped me connect what I learned to real life.
Has your EL opportunity shaped your future career path?
Co-op exposed me to working in the research part of a hospital and helped me realize that this is what I want to do. After I graduate, I plan to go to grad school for clinical neuropsychology.
Third-Year Women’s & Gender Studies, Sociology and Public Law Student
What was your EL experience like?
I’m doing a double minor in sociology and public law, and I took a class called Global Field School, Indigenous Costa Rica with the Department of Sociology and Professor Danielle Kwan-Lafond. It involved learning at U of T Scarborough and then a trip to Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica, we met with Indigenous communities and spent time out in the field, learning about their agriculture, farming, housing, and sustainability practices.
How did this experience impact you personally?
My family has Indigenous roots in El Salvador, but I’d never really had a chance to learn about them. So when I was in Costa Rica, I immediately felt like, “Oh my gosh, I’m home.” It felt like a part of me had been missing that I hadn’t even realized, and being there felt so natural. I really connected with the people and the land on this trip.
How did the trip impact you academically?
Before this trip, I had a more rigid mentality. I was very “by the book.” Being in Costa Rica helped me loosen up and appreciate different methods of studying and approaching problems. It really helped expand my mind and my perspective.