Since 2019, I’ve been working with my colleague Paul Miller to create an institutional toolkit for fostering both students’ self-reflection and their mentoring conversations with peers, staff, and faculty in order to deepen students’ educational experiences. Our institution, Elon University, requires students to complete two units of experiential learning as part of our core curriculum (i.e., general education). Students may select from five options: internships, study abroad (or off-campus, domestic study), independent research, community-based learning, and mentored leadership positions. Many students complete three, four, or all five of these Elon Experiences.

During pre-pandemic strategic planning by Elon’s Experiential Education Advisory Committee, committee members representing the programs that facilitate each of these experiences lamented that, although student participation rates are high, students may struggle to integrate their learning and development from these experiences with the rest of their university experience. Unless explicitly prompted during processes like fellowship applications, which only a small subset of students pursue, students often omit their Elon Experiences from the stories they tell in job search materials and graduate school applications.

As a result, Paul and I partnered with Elon’s experiential learning programs to develop pre-, during-, and post-experience questions that support reflection on preparation, reflection on action, and reflection on transfer of learning (e.g., Ash and Clayton 2009; Dewey 1910; Kiser 1998; Schön 1983). We conducted focus groups with students and used their feedback to revise the Toolkit. We then piloted the Toolkit across advising and mentoring contexts before releasing it for campus-wide use.

What is the FIRE Toolkit?

The FIRE Toolkit includes pre-experience, during-experience, and post-experience reflection and integration questions for community-based learning, internships, leadership, research, and study away—as well as across-experience questions. Students can use these questions to guide their reflection on and discussion with others about which experiences are the best match for them. Although the current Toolkit uses Elon names for these high-impact and experiential learning activities, most of the questions could be used by staff and faculty advisors and mentors at other colleges and universities without adaptation.

Students can also use the Toolkit questions to talk with peers, advisors, and mentors about their plans for their future experiential learning and how experiences they’ve already completed integrate with their broader university journey and future goals.

Students can track their reflections over time, using Google Docs linked from the FIRE Toolkit website.

How Do I Use the FIRE Toolkit with Students?

We recommend using the Toolkit questions to start and maintain ongoing conversations. While we want students to retain agency in how they use the Toolkit to reflect on and integrate their experiential learning with other aspects of their education and professional development, the Toolkit includes questions you can use…

  • during advising conversations, 
  • with student employees you supervise,
  • as you visit with mentees about their short- and long-term goals, and
  • in your many other meaningful relationships with students.

Pick a question to ask the next time you meet with a student, and then ask a follow-up question at a future meeting. For example, if a student expresses interest in an internship, you might ask…

What are your goals for your internship experience? What skills do you hope to develop, or what experiences do you hope to gain? (From the Internships Pre-Experience Questions)

Later, when the student is completing the internship, you might ask…

What have you learned so far at your internship site that will inform your internship work in the weeks to come? (From the Internships During-Experience Questions)

Finally, when the student wraps up their internship, you might ask…

What did you learn—about yourself or your field of study—during your internship experience? (From the Internships Post-Experience Questions)

Of course, that’s just one example of iterative conversations the Toolkit can facilitate.

What’s Next for the Toolkit?

Since launching the Toolkit, Paul and I have received requests for a “meta” version that is less specific to our university and the five Elon Experiences. Therefore, we’ve subsequently extended the Toolkit to include prompts about a more expansive set of engaged and experiential learning activities. We’re currently conducting focus groups with students to incorporate their feedback into revisions.

We’ll share the expanded Facilitating Integration of and Reflection on Engaged and Experiential Learning (FIRE) Toolkit on the Center for Engaged Learning website later this year. For now, Paul and I would be delighted to visit with you about how you might use the existing Toolkit individually or as a program- or campus-wide initiative. Contact me ( or Paul ( with any questions or to learn more about the Toolkit.


Ash, Sarah L., and Clayton, Patti H. 2009. “Generating, Deepening, and Documenting Learning: The Power of Critical Reflection in Applied Learning.” Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education 1: 25–48.

Dewey, John. 1910. How We Think. Heath.

Kiser, Pam M. 1998. “The Integrative Processing Model: A Framework for Learning in the Field Experience.” Human Service Education 18 (1): 3–13.

Schön, Donald A. 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York, NY: Basic.

Jessie L. Moore is director of the Center for Engaged Learning and professor of English: Professional Writing & Rhetoric. She leads planning, implementation, and assessment of the Center’s research seminars. She is the author of Key Practices for Fostering Engaged Learning: A Guide for Faculty and Staff (Stylus Publishing, 2023) and co-editor of Cultivating Capstones: Designing High-Quality Culminating Experiences for Student Learning (with Caroline J. Ketcham and Anthony G. Weaver, Stylus, 2023), Writing Beyond the University: Preparing Lifelong Learners for Lifewide Writing (with Julia Bleakney and Paula Rosinski, CEL Open Access, 2022), Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research (with Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler and Paul Miller, CUR, 2018), Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer (with Chris Anson, The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado, 2016/2017), and Understanding Writing Transfer: Implications for Transformative Student Learning in Higher Education (with Randy Bass, Stylus, 2017).

How to Cite this Post

Moore, Jessie L. 2024. “Facilitating Integration of and Reflection on Engaged and Experiential Learning.” Center for Engaged Learning (blog), Elon University. April 9, 2024.