Experiential Learning through Community-based Experiences: A Graduate Student Perspective

  • Iffat Naeem Ms.
  • Fabiola E. Aparicio-Ting University of Calgary


Experiential learning (EL) has become essential for graduate students to meet the demanding nature of professional environments, equipping them with skills in leadership, problem solving, and civic consciousness. Community based learning (CBL), as an identified EL strategy, involves a collaborative learning model emphasizing group membership and community engagement. CBL not only enhances graduate skills, but also places graduate student research within a larger social context, and encourages deeper understanding of their discipline. This paper discusses a 90-minute workshop that focused on a graduate student experience with CBL and proposes a framework for integrating CBL into graduate studies. The framework proposes the use of positionality and mindful inquiry methods to identify learner-specific EL activities. Workshop participants reflected on their positionalities, and discussed how positionality can be used to guide mindful inquiry in seeking CBL activities. Further, we report on participant identified contextual and administrative barriers to integration of CBL into graduate curricula. As EL becomes an important mandate for postsecondary institutions to incorporate into student learning, this paper provides a valuable graduate student perspective that can add insight into the practicality of applying CBL in graduate education.

Author Biography

Fabiola E. Aparicio-Ting , University of Calgary

Instructor and Director

Health & Society for the Bachelors of Health Science Program

Department of Community Health Sciences

Cumming School of Medicine

University of Calgary

Educational research interests include curriculum design, undergraduate health sciences education and public health capacity building in global setting. FT teaches many courses that span the four years of the BHSc program. 

Setting the Experiential Learning Landscape