As college graduates are increasingly expected to enter the workforce with job-ready skills, experiential learning is becoming increasingly more prevalent with competitive higher education programs. This active, engaged, hands-on form of learning is an educational model that allows students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real world challenges that don’t necessarily have only one correct answer.
CapSource is on a mission to increase access to and quality of experiential learning available at colleges and universities around the globe. The CapSource model is to help educators integrate real-world business leaders and their company challenges directly into the education process through research-oriented, project-based experiential learning engagements.
After successfully implementing over 100 engagements at 30 institutions with the help of 120 companies over the past two years, the CapSource team decided to officially define our experiential learning model, which enables students to hone essential universal skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity in order to develop reference worthy work experience in school before graduating.
Through CapSource engagements, students practice using key universal skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity in order to develop real outcomes for real stakeholders who provide meaningful and actionable feedback along the way. As a result, students gain reference-worthy experience working with real companies, in real business functions, on real challenges that have real stakes.
Below we’ve taken the time to break down each of these components of the CapSource experiential learning model in order to help our students, educators, and host company partners better understand the purpose of using real-world projects in the classroom.
Using & Honing Universal Skills
Experiential learning fosters the “4 C’s” of universal skills as defined by the National Education Association: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. These four crucial skills are cornerstones of success in both education and workforce because it leads to efficiency and productivity for organizations. Without these skills, it’s inherently challenging to operate in a connected, collaborative company structure and team environment, which is particularly why it’s so crucial that students graduate with an understanding of how each of these skills governs their interactions with colleagues, customers, superiors, and subordinates.
Communication encompasses a variety of listening, verbal, and written skills used to articulate thoughts and ideas. Communication skills can use different types of media, from email to video, and also draw upon cross-cultural competencies. With most jobs in the U.S. economy focusing on service-oriented industries, communication is highly important for career success. Students who work on CapSource projects must communicate with their groups, their faculty members, and representatives from their host company in order to succeed. The better the communication throughout the engagement, the better outcomes for all parties.
==> Read more about Boosting Student Communication Skills through experiential learning.
Collaboration, or the ability to work well with others, is an essential skill in the 21st century workforce, especially with increased globalization. Collaboration brings together multiple perspectives and skills, ultimately leading to stronger project results. Collaboration and communication are strongly linked in CapSource projects, since collaborating with project groups requires clear communication and teamwork in order to deliver successful outcomes.
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Critical thinking refers to the ability to use different types of reasoning, such as deductive and inductive, to make decisions and solve problems that don’t only have one clear answer. Critical thinking is a priority in all job functions, across all industries and typically becomes a main differentiator for career success. CapSource projects involve understanding and solving business challenges, which requires students to first comprehend different business models before then being able to propose reasonable solutions for real business challenges. Critical thinking plays a key role in the ability to break down large, complex, multifaceted challenges into bite-sized nuggets that can be addressed and resolved piece-by-piece.
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Contrary to popular belief, creativity isn’t about how well a student does in art class. Rather, creativity is about innovating and developing new ideas, and then bringing those ideas into fruition. CapSource students must harness creativity at every stage of the project, from brainstorming ideas to iterating solutions. Creativity relies heavily on the other three C’s because turning ideas into action requires communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. As students come up with new ideas and cooperate as they try and reason through challenges, they’re able to flex their creative muscles and better understand how thinking creatively can result in positive outcomes for their group and the external stakeholders they’re working with.
==> Read more about Boosting Student Creativity through experiential learning.