Experiential Learning & Teaching in Higher Education


Sixty-four years after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision, schools, neighborhoods, and communities in the United States remain largely segregated by race and class. As a result, many incoming students arrive on college and university campuses with limited exposure to people from a wide array of backgrounds and identities. In this article, we examine how students enrolled in an undergraduate teacher education course, Multiculturalism and Education, learned from and reflected on an experiential learning assignment. The assignment, called “Immersion Experience,” required them to have a brief experience in a cultural context that is different from their own. Through the assignment, students reflected on their own identities, values, and upbringing; learned about their stereotypes and beliefs about discrimination; and began to appreciate experience as a way of deepening their understanding of diversity. In an era in which undergraduates spend more of their time online, self-segregated and fractured by political beliefs and social identities and experiences, assignments such as the “Immersion Experience” help to create the physical, human encounters with difference that are vital for community and democracy.

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