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A&M-Texarkana to Showcase Experiential Learning and University Honors Program Projects

Published: April 19, 2017

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Connect 360: The Eagle Experience and the University Honors program at Texas A&M University-Texarkana will join together to showcase student experiential learning projects and honor faculty on Thursday, April 27, at noon in the Tri-State Iron & Metal Atrium on the third floor of the University Center on the A&M-Texarkana campus, 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas.

This is the third year for the University Honors program showcase, which features the research activities of students in the University Honors program, and the first year for the Connect 360: The Eagle Experience showcase, which highlights experiential learning at A&M-Texarkana.

A&M-TExarkana logo“The university academic honors program has taken the lead over the last several years to give an outlet for students and faculty who are interested in taking their teaching and learning to the next level,” said Dr. Craig Nakashian, associate professor of history and director of the University Honors program. “Our students design and complete projects alongside faculty mentors in disciplines across campus, and many of them have presented their research both on and off campus. The showcase is a great opportunity for the university and broader community to come engage with them.”

During the event, the University Honors program will also present its first Teaching Excellence Awards for undergraduate teaching and mentorship.

“One of the most exciting initiatives we have been able to put in place this year is the revival of Teaching Excellence Awards at A&M-Texarkana. As a university that prides itself on its commitment to quality teaching, we in the Honors program wanted to take the lead in recognizing those faculty who truly go above and beyond for our students,” Dr. Nakashian said.

“Faculty at A&M-Texarkana have led the charge and made the commitment to active learning, specifically experiential learning and high-impact practices, with Connect 360: The Eagle Experience,” said Dr. Sara Lawrence, director of the Quality Enhancement Plan and assistant professor of educational psychology at A&M-Texarkana. “The Eagle Experience refers to the experience students have the moment they walk on campus to when they graduate. Connect 360 puts experiential learning at the heart of the university. EL activities include internships, field work, service learning projects, undergraduate research and study-abroad opportunities. Courses incorporating these experiential learning activities can apply for experiential learning designation showing the course meets principles of the National Society of Experiential Education.”

Dr. Lawrence said the experiential learning designation on courses is significant as employers want to hire graduates with more than a degree.

“Employers want graduates to show what they know and what they can do,” Dr. Lawrence said. “An experiential learning course does this by requiring students to apply knowledge and problem solve in their academic discipline in authentic work situations. Further, experiential learning courses require students gain experience in work skills not specifically addressed in the classroom.”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports employers are looking for graduates who can work as part of a team, show strong written and verbal communication skills, possess problem-solving skills and have a strong work ethic, Dr. Lawrence said. These skills are inherently developed within the structure of an experiential learning course.

Beginning at noon on Thursday, the university and community can view experiential learning displays from students in biology, business, education, English, history and mass communication, and prizes will be awarded to student displays that best represent National Society of Experiential Education principles. Dr. Lawrence will also recognize faculty leaders in experiential learning.

The free event is open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

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