An International Center for Research on Engaged Learning


(Re)Examining Conditions for Meaningful Learning Experiences

written by admin on November 13, 2019 in Call for Applications and CEL News and Doing EL and Engaged Learning and Studying EL with no comments

2020-2022 Center for Engaged Learning 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

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.

We anticipate that Year 1 of the study will focus on “What is?” (Hutchings, 2000), constructing a comprehensive, descriptive analysis of (high-impact) educational practices at 18-24 institutions. This analysis will enable participants to speak to how colleges and universities foster these conditions for meaningful learning, identifying both strategies specific to case study institutions and those shared by multiple participating colleges.

Year 2 then will move to examining “What works?” or “Visions of the possible” research questions (Hutchings, 2000) to explore strategies for scaling up access to these conditions so that more students can engage with – and more institutions can offer – meaningful learning experiences.

Participants will produce significant, concrete outcomes. Past Center for Engaged Learning research seminars have generated edited volumes, journal articles and book chapterswhite papers, and conference presentations – as well as local initiatives on participants’ home campuses.

We particularly encourage applications from scholars at campuses with independent (e.g., undergraduate students over the age of 24, active duty military or veterans, students with legal dependents, etc.) and historically underrepresented minoritized student populations.

Read the full call for applications here. To apply, submit a completed application and abbreviated curriculum vita (CV, 4 pages maximum) by January 6, 2020.

Please direct questions about the 2020-2022 research seminar or the Center for Engaged Learning’s work to the Center’s Director, Jessie L. Moore (jmoore28@elon.edu; 336.278.5649).



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