Grace College Provides Applied Learning Experiences
Grace College continues to prioritize unique and innovative educational experiences for its students – the most recent of which is the new Applied Learning Program, a part of the Student Affairs Office that works closely with Career Services. While applied learning has long been available for students majoring in education, it is now a required and invaluable experience for all Grace students.
“Applied Learning” is a concept that emphasizes commitment to analytic inquiry, active learning, real-world problem solving, and innovation. Students may experience applied learning through both traditional and non-traditional assignments. The goal is to link knowledge and/or skills acquired in work, community, and/or research activities with knowledge acquired in the classroom and through traditional schoolwork.
Beginning with the Fall 2011 Freshman class, each student will need to have completed 12 credits of applied learning to graduate. Each credit is equivalent to 40 hours of service, so by the time they graduate, Grace students will have at least 480 hours of applied learning experience in various settings.
One of the ways students will accomplish this is through applied learning experiences that are available in a variety of settings and positions – over 73 unique opportunities are available for students in the Warsaw, Mishawaka, Anderson and Indianapolis areas. Some of the participating providers include libraries, schools, health care professionals, and banks, among others.
Caitlin Chaney, a sophomore, is one of the 20 Grace students who applied for these experiences this semester. Chaney is currently connected with Peak Performance in Warsaw, where she observes the physical therapist with patients, participates in conversations with the physical therapist and the patient, prepares the station in-between appointments, and sets up equipment for patients. The opportunity is ideal for Chaney, who needs to complete observation hours before she applies to graduate school physical therapy programs. “This program allowed me to get a taste of what my future career may look like. I am able to see the pros and cons of being a physical therapist firsthand, and because of it, I am even more excited about my future than before!” Chaney said.
Andrew LaGioia, a freshman, is completing an applied learning experience at Mutual Bank. LaGioia has the opportunity to shadow in virtually every department of the branch, including working in the vault, where he learned to count, strap, and organize money. “The biggest benefit from this experience has definitely been the chance for me to get an inside look at how banks work. There is still so much more that I can learn, but I feel that as a result of this applied learning experience, I have come to understand roughly how each department and employee fits into the bank as a whole,” LaGioia said.
Randy Polston, Director of Applied Learning, is enthusiastic about the implementation of the applied learning experiences. “I am so excited for the students at Grace College. Because of our Applied Learning Program, our students are now given an opportunity to learn outside the four walls of the classroom. As a 34-year educator with Warsaw Community Schools, I was always working with my teachers to ‘give life in the learning process.’ The Applied Learning Program meets that goal. Our students are connecting what they are learning in the classrooms at Grace with these new learning opportunities,” Polston said.
Grace College is an evangelical Christian community of higher education, which applies biblical values in strengthening character, sharpening competence, and preparing for service. The academic, residential, athletic, and social aspects of the college are designed to encourage intellectual and spiritual growth in a supportive campus community. The 180-acre main campus is located in the historic resort town of Winona Lake, near Warsaw, Ind. Grace College also offers a new highly affordable and accessible two-year degree program in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis through The Weber School. Grace College has historically been among the top schools of its size and listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges. The Princeton Review has regularly awarded it the title of a “Best Midwestern College.”