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PNW Pioneer

Column: How did we forget about experiential learning?

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The PNW Faculty Senate Committee members have found themselves dumbfounded because creating an EXL program for the combined university has proven to be harder than they anticipated.

Pause.

Let’s rewind one year to when we were still PUC and PNC, and we were trying to figure out how the unified PNW was going to function. The two biggest programs that the unification teams had to figure out how to homogenize for PNW were PNC’s Dual Credit program and PUC’s EXL program. The Dual Credit program, although seemingly problematic at first, appears to be the only thing keeping the Westville Campus afloat as more than half of its enrollment is dual credit students; so thankfully, that issue was sorted out. With that being said, I really don’t know how or why they seemed to forget about EXL.

Right now there appears to be two main possibilities for the future of EXL; I would say three but as long as Judy Hack is still around, EXL won’t be completely eradicated. The first possibility is to keep EXL exactly how it is with every student having to take two of the EXL 90 courses in order to graduate.
To be fair, the program not only worked for PUC, but it was also one of the former university’s proudest achievements. Speaking on behalf of Management Information System majors and students from the College of Business, I definitely consider my experience with experiential learning to have been beneficial to my academic growth.

English 105 is currently considered an EXL course, although not all members of the Faculty Senate Committee believe it should be. The benefit of English 105 being an EXL course is that it is required of all students, so immediately that’s one of the two required EXL courses. I was a part of one of the first EXL English 105 courses, and I can honestly say that it was one of my favorite courses that I have taken thus far in college. The class revolved around the students working together to create a webzine where we posted our research papers. We elected an editor-in-chief, a marketing director, a web designer and copy editors. To this day I still keep in touch with several of the students in that class, and have even done more group projects with them in other courses.

The second possibility is for EXL to remain a graduation requirement to some, but not all majors. Pretty much every major out of the College of Business seems like it will keep its EXL requirement as students and faculty from that college are very vocal about the benefits of those EXL courses. I cannot speak on behalf of majors outside of the College of Business, but this leads to one of the biggest issues with how the Faculty Senate Committee is dealing with EXL; students and alumni are currently not being asked their thoughts on the issue. Committee members who may never have dealt with EXL at all have more say in the matter than people who not only have taken EXL courses, but might have gotten jobs as a result. If done right, questioning students and alumni can lead to the committee realizing what majors absolutely need EXL requirements, and what ones might be pointless.

We are currently four months deep into the first year of PNW, and we still don’t know all the graduation requirements for our first batch of students, an issue we should have had figured out prior to unification. The Faculty Senate Committee needs to get its act together and get this issue settled so we can move forward with the year.

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