About Us

What is Engaged Learning?

Engaged Learning practices are immersive, high impact educational practices that seek to leverage student engagement to create deep learning. These practices can come in a variety of forms such as internships, community/service learning, collaborative projects, learning communities, and global learning (AAC&U). All of these practices garner the unique ability to generate lasting learning experiences across multiple developmental areas such as academic, career and social/personal constructs. Despite the variety of practices, it has been shown that the impact on students is primarily governed by how the practice is designed and delivered rather than what the practice is itself (AAC&U, 2023).

In short, engaged learning is learning brought to life.

What makes these practices high impact?

These practices are considered high impact due to their positive influence on learning success and persistence towards academic goals within the realm of higher education. High-impact practices allow students to further engage in meaningful and hands-on learning experiences that lead to increased development in personal growth and academic success. These results are especially pronounced for Black and Hispanic students and those who are 25 years and older ( Valentine, Price, Yang, 2021).

Although high impact practices come in a variety of forms, some of the most common elements include (Kuh and O'Donnell, 2013):

  • Performance expectations set at appropriately high levels
  • Significant investment of time and effort by students over an extended period of time
  • Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters
  • Experience with diverse individuals and circumstances that differ from those which students are familiar with
  • Frequent and constructive feedback
  • Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning
  • Opportunities to discover relevance of learning outside of the classroom
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes (KSAs) which can be assessed through both direct (observable) and indirect (self-reporting) measures (AAC&U Value Rubrics)

Why get involved?

Participating in an engaged learning practice has been shown to benefit individuals in a variety of different ways including:

  • Continuation towards educational goals such as degrees
  • Improved GPA
  • Expanded worldview
  • Stronger sense of community
  • Increased student engagement (Kuh, 2008)

At its core, an engaged learning practice utilizes brain-based learning as well as incorporating aspects of experiential learning theory. Brain-based learning uses research and imaging from neuroscience to “see” learning as it occurs within the brain, and the results indicate that learning through experiential learning is consistent with how the human brain processes information. Experiential Learning Theory, pioneered by David A. Kolb, is a learning model that focuses on learning through (1) a concrete experience, (2) reflecting on the learning, (3) generalizing the learning to be applied in related situations, and (4) testing out the newfound knowledge, which prompts re-engagement with the learning cycle all over again (Immordino-Yang, 2016, Kolb, 1984,  Zull, 2004).

Valencia college seeks to provide authentic, engaged learning experiences that are transferable to all aspects of a student’s life. This includes both inside and outside the realm of school and into their personal and professional lives. In a forthcoming age of artificial intelligence, utilizing applied learning with meaningful reflection helps to develop vital skills such as critical thinking, transference of knowledge, cultural knowledge, and empathy.

Creating professional connections is one of the outcomes and benefits of engaging in a high impact practice. During many engaged learning experiences, students are exposed to a variety of different connections within a multitude of potential careers. This gives students a chance to try out different professional environments and explore their interests on a deeper level. Students will also benefit from becoming active members within their community, networking with those in their surrounding community and the greater global community, and developing the skills to become active members in their society.

How to get involved

At Valencia College, there are pathways to engaging in all of the recognized high-impact practices. Some practices, such as capstones and e-portfolios, are embedded into discipline-specific degree programs, while others have a centralized college-wide focus. Select any of the following engaged practices to learn more about it, and for further information about those not listed, please reach out to engagedlearning@valenciacollege.edu: