(Re)Examining Conditions for Meaningful Learning Experiences

2020-2022 Research Seminar

Year 1: July 5-10, 2020
Year 2: June 27-July 2, 2021
Year 3: June 26-July 1, 2022

Deadline to Apply: January 6, 2020

Printer-Friendly Call for Applications (PDF) | Online Application

Work by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), their affiliated scholars (e.g., Kuh, O’Donnell, Finley, Gonyea, Kinzie, etc.), and other researchers has focused higher education’s attention on “high-impact” educational practices (HIPs) that correlate with persistence, graduation rates, and potentially, academic achievement. Over the past decade, both institutional and multi-institutional research has examined additional outcomes of HIPs, including behavioral and attitudinal outcomes,  critical thinking, civic engagement, intellectual curiosity, and improved communication strategies. Given these potential outcomes, institutions increasingly are exploring how to scale-up access to HIPs to more – and more diverse – students.

With the 2020-2022 Center for Engaged Learning Research Seminar, we wish to flip the focus from outcomes of to conditions for meaningful learning. HIPs are one category of meaningful learning experiences; how do we make learning experiences meaningful for all students? To explore this question, we invite applicants to focus on the conditions that facilitate high-impact educational practices and other meaningful learning experiences. While scholars could draw from any number of lists that describe what makes a learning experience high-impact, the 2020-20222 Research Seminar focuses on five conditions consistently identified as key characteristics for meaningful learning by researchers across the Center’s previous research seminars. Those five conditions are:

  • Meaningful relationships, including substantive interaction with faculty/staff mentors and peers, and development of diverse networks;
  • Connections to broader contexts, including practice in real-world applications of students’ developing knowledge and skills;
  • Frequent feedback on both work-in-progress and final products;
  • Opportunities for reflection; and
  • Integration of prior learning and experiences.

We invite applications from scholars affiliated with high-impact educational practices (e.g., first-year seminars and experiences, learning communities, undergraduate research, etc.) and other engaged learning practices that have the potential to facilitate these conditions (e.g., on-campus employment, immersive learning experiences, etc.) to join a multi-institutional study of meaningful learning experiences.