Experiential Learning & Teaching in Higher Education


Experiential learning can be in the form of internships, field trips, service learning, and research projects. The practical nature of criminal justice is a logical fit for experience-based learning. Specifically, academic field trips may be viewed as examples of short-term experiential education. However, do experiential learning trips have an academic impact over time? Using survey data, the current study examines if students acquire and retain knowledge after a prison tour of Eastern State Penitentiary. Pre- and post-tour surveys of student learning outcomes showed a statistically significant gain between the pre- and post-tour survey results. A follow-up survey explored if students retained academic information from the trip over time. While analyses indicate students lost some of the knowledge gained about the penitentiary system, students’ scores continued to demonstrate a statistically significant gain between the pre- and follow-up surveys. Suggestions are made to enhance the impact of experiential learning, specifically related to social justice issues, on student knowledge.

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