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Engaging Students Through Applied, Experiential Learning

By Josh Miller

As we take a more in-depth look into what educational institutions are doing to modernize and better engage students, we can see that there is a direct link between experiential education and student engagement. In fact, a previous XYZ University study found that 55% of Gen Zs learn best by doing – not watching or listening.

In our upcoming whitepaper, Gen Z in the Classroom, we explore and explain how schools have embraced learning outside the traditional classroom and are driving student engagement. More importantly, we explain that the students who are experiencing this type of education will end up being more qualified and prepared members of the workforce compared to their peers who may not have had those same opportunities.

Personally, I balance a challenging high school course load while at the same time acting as an advocate for my generation in the corporate world – researching, writing, and speaking on all things Gen Z.

I struggle every day with the fact that I need to be in a classroom for 8 hours while I could be doing much more meaningful and personally fulfilling work outside of school. It needs to be understood that the disconnect between education and the real world is a major reason why students have a hard time engaging with curriculum.

I’m not the only student to share that attitude. According to the “The Silent Epidemic,” a study done by the Gates Foundation to raise awareness of the high school dropout epidemic, the number one reason students gave for dropping out of school was that their classes simply weren’t interesting. Four out of five (81 percent) said “there should be more opportunities for real-world learning and some in the focus groups called for more experiential learning. Students need to see the connection between school and getting a good job to be truly engaged.”

It’s more important than ever for educators to offer real-world, open-ended projects that emphasize critical thinking skills to be used in life after school. It’s this type of work that evaluates thinking and separates good students from great students, not blindly filling out worksheets that can prove what a student has memorized.

At the end of the day, there are lessons that can really only be learned in real world settings. In order to prepare students for the real world, educational systems need to shift their focus from teaching to a standardized test to teaching life skills that will benefit a student down the road.

The most important lesson that an educator can give his or her student is that learning is never done. “Once you stop learning you start dying.” – Albert Einstein.


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