Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Case Study of Experiential Learning through a Training Model at the Science and Policy Interface: The National Animal Health Policy and Food Security Course

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Case Study of Experiential Learning through a Training Model at the Science and Policy Interface: The National Animal Health Policy and Food Security Course

Article excerpt

Introduction

Experiential learning involves a number of approaches and practices but in all instances focus on the things the learner brings to the experience as well as what they gain from the experience (Stanton and Grant, 2002). Experiential learning provides an opportunity for students to gain tangible experience while still enrolled at their schools or universities; it combines classroom knowledge with real world experience (Brandéis University, 2013). Experiential learning provides a practical approach to learning (Stanton and Grant, 2002), and has been reported to be an effective way for students to share their experiences with others (Brandéis University, 2013). Through this mode of training, students acquire confidence to apply the knowledge they have attained (Brandéis University, 2013). Additionally, experiential learning is an opportunity for students to convert their class work into life experiences (Brandéis University, 2013) as it enables students to network with several professionals in their field of study (UNESCO, 2012), and offers an opportunity to obtain career related experiences (UNESCO, 2012). According to Stanton and Grant (2002), experiential learning can be implemented through: planning for the experience, increasing the participant's awareness of the experience, assisting the learner to reflect upon the experience and providing experiences to the participants.

A multi-institutional approach of offering jointly planned and implemented courses comes with many advantages but importantly the formation of partnerships and collaborations. Currently, funding organizations are encouraging institutions to follow that approach (Golsmith and Manly, 2003) by preferentially awarding funds to support research and education initiatives. One of the perceived advantages of multi-institutional partnerships, particularly those with globally diverse partners, is enhancing capacity of our next generation of scientists and leaders to address issues that have global contexts (Golsmith and Manly, 2003). It also enhances the quality of the outcomes from projects being run by these institutions (Golsmith and Manly, 2003) as different institutions have different capacities and specialties. Therefore, this pedagogical method provides a platform for different institutions to tap into each other's resources thereby improving efficiency (Anderson et al., 2008). Additionally, this approach enables students to easily tap into new available career opportunities (Anderson et al., 2008). The model provides enhanced networking opportunities for students, faculty and institutions. It contributes to professional development among the faculty through multi-institutional peer interaction (Anderson et al., 2008) and is an opportunity for faculty to extend their specialty to a diverse student audience globally (Anderson et al., 2008). The multi-institutional approach enables student's access and choice among the different academic programs while enhancing the outsourcing of services, materials and technical help among the member institutions (Anderson et al., 2008).

Over the past decades, globalization of instruction, outreach and research has been a major focus for higher education institutions (AIEA, 2013). In particular, educational institutions are attempting to address global issues, such as transboundary diseases that move globally and cause serious socio-economic damage across national borders. These types of issues can only be effectively addressed by applying a global approach (FAO, 2013). Establishing international courses to build capacity worldwide is one of the ways to confront these complex global problems. Several courses have been developed to address global issues, including the global animal health course offered by Washington State University described elsewhere (Ekiri et al., 2013). The outreach efforts resulting from such global programs have been credited for contributing to the building of a healthier world. …

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