Experiential learning

Faculty explaing research to student on computer screens

Broadly defined, Experiential Learning is “learning by doing”. Experiential learning is a central part of the teaching fabric in Psychology at University of Waterloo. We offer experiential learning opportunities in our classrooms, in our laboratories, and in our clinic. 

Graduate students

Graduate students in all areas learn by actively working with their supervisors in highly active laboratories.

Graduate students hone their presentation skills in the weekly seminars where they present their research investigations.

In statistics and research design courses, graduate students actively work with research data-bases to develop and fine-tune their data analytic skills.

Graduate students are mentored through the publication process by faculty members with the end-goal of the students’ publishing first-authored publications.

Graduate students in the Clinical Program use our in-house Centre for Mental Health Research to receive a stepped approach to clinical training. They first observe clinical work directly, then develop their hands-on clinical skills through role-playing exercises with fellow students. They then learn to provide assessment and treatment services directly to clients under close supervision of faculty members.

Graduate students in Cognitive Neuroscience learn human neuroanatomy by dissecting cadavers.

Graduate students in Industrial/Organizational Psychology work with industry partners during on-site work placements.

Graduate students in Developmental Communication Science complete both lab and community research internships.

Undergraduate students

Students “learn by doing” in research apprenticeship courses where they spend 8 hours per week in laboratories actively conducting research with faculty members and graduate students (See Psychology [Psych] 264 and Psych 464 for details).

In upper-year seminar courses, students learn to hone their communication skills. In a typical seminar course, students gain oral communication experience by presenting to their professor and to fellow students an overview of a research that has been conducted in a particular area of psychology.

Lab techniques are learned in hands-on fashion in upper-year research methods courses. Here are just a few examples:

In Advanced Data Analysis (Psych 391), students supplement lectures on data analytic techniques with hands-on labs where they learn to use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to analyze different types of data sets.

In Research in Human Cognitive Neuroscience (Psych 392), students learn to: program experiments using an experimental programming platform, learn to acquire and analyze physiological measures, create their own experiments where they collect and analyze data on themselves and their lab partners, and hone their writing skills by writing up these experiments in journal-submission format.

In Negotiation in the Workplace (Psych 439), students learn about the factors that influence negotiations, coalitions in the workplace, and dispute resolutions. Students work in teams to apply what they have learned in an experiential learning setting.

In Research in Behavioural Neuroscience (Psych 396), students learn surgical and histology techniques, and are introduced to computer tracking and virtual reality methods.

In the Human Resources Apprenticeship (Psych 467), students are given a work-placement experience where they volunteer in a work setting. They learn to create résumés and to participate in mock-job interviews.

See the undergraduate calendar for more courses that offer classroom opportunities for experiential learning.