Problem-Solving Ability in Courses with Multiple Types of Experiential Learning

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John Walker
Louis Rocconi

Abstract

Studies show students that participate in experiential learning (EL) have stronger problem-solving skills compared to students who have not participated in EL; however, few studies have examined the effects of student exposed to multiple types of EL on problem-solving ability. This study seeks to understand how courses with multiple types of EL effect students’ perceptions of problem-solving ability. A special emphasis will examine the effect on students of color and first-generation students. A multilevel model was constructed to measure the problem-solving ability of students (N = 385) based on characteristics of their course (N = 20). An intraclass correlation (? = .069) and a design effect > 2 demonstrate that a multilevel model is appropriate for this analysis. Courses that incorporate combinations of EL, such as using service-learning and undergraduate research together, have strong impacts on problem-solving skills for undergraduate students, particularly underclassman, compared to students in courses with one type of EL. Students that are exposed to multiple types of EL in the early stages of their undergraduate studies will show stronger growth in their problem-solving ability prior to entering the workforce.

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