Experiential learning: Exploring its long-term impact on socially responsible behavior

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Jay Caulfield
Treesa Woods


Today’s students are exposed to world events that require considerable cross cultural understanding and recognition that education is far more than learning facts about specific disciplines and diverse groups while sitting in a classroom. For the past several decades, research in education has repeatedly demonstrated that adults learn effectively through experience. However, does experiential learning, when designed specifically to heighten awareness of a significant social problem, evoke socially responsible behavior specific to that problem in the long run?  Employing a qualitative longitudinal research design involving 25 graduate students as participants, this study explored that question. Findings indicated that 94.7% of participants who reported a high impact learning experience when participating in experiential learning while enrolled in a graduate class also reported engaging in socially responsible behavior because of that learning experience. In some instances, the socially responsible behavior continued for as long as three years after the class had ended.


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Caulfield, J., & Woods, T. (2013). Experiential learning: Exploring its long-term impact on socially responsible behavior. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(2), 31–48. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/3235
Author Biographies

Jay Caulfield, Marquette University

Jay Caulfield, Ph.D. As associate dean, Dr. Caulfield has led the curriculum design of the college’s graduate degree in leadership studies. She routinely teaches courses in leadership theory, research methods and qualitative research. She serves on numerous university and college committees and boards including the University Board of Graduate Studies, the Institutional Review Board and currently chairs the University Committee on Teaching. In spring of 2011, she received an outstanding service award from the College of Professional Studies for her teaching, service and research. She is a member of the International Leadership Association and the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Recent published studies include, Why should I tell you how you teach? An expectancy theory perspective; and Applying graduate student perceptions of task engagement to enhance learning conditions. In 2011, she published a book titled, How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course: Achieving Student-Centered Learning through Blended Classroom, Online and Experiential Activities. She is currently working on a longitudinal study in transformational leadership, a longitudinal study in experiential learning and a second book on leadership.

Treesa Woods, Marquette University

Treesa Woods, M.B.A., M.L.S. As a past graduate student on full diversity and merit scholarship at Marquette University, Ms. Woods' research interest is in experiential learning. She participated in this research study while enrolled as a graduate student at Marquette.


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