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Experiential Learning Fund

Experiential Learning Fund

As part of the PCIP-funded Teaching Innovation Initiative a new project fund is available for academic units to support student access to experiential learning opportunities. The University Learning Centre (ULC) administers this Experiential Learning Fund of approximately $200,000 per year. The primary purpose of the fund is to be an enabler for supporting the creation of new experiential learning opportunities.

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential Learning refers to learning opportunities where activities are consciously and deliberately created to address specific course or program goals, where the activities involve interactive and authentic learning experience for students, and where the activities go beyond what might normally be found in a traditional university classroom or laboratory.

This is not to imply that traditional university classrooms or laboratories have lesser value or cannot be places of deep and inspiring learning activities, but rather we wish to convey that by going beyond the confines of the traditional classroom or laboratory, we can offer students learning opportunities that can enrich and deepen their learning.

At the University of Saskatchewan, we have internally identified five primary forms of experiential learning for undergraduate students:

Other forms of experiential learning can include hands-on laboratory work, immersive simulations, role-plays, and case-based learning. Yet laboratory work or case learning can also be delivered in ways that are not deeply experiential.  The use of interactive and immersive technologies can also bring to light opportunities for deeper experiences.

Funding Allocation Process

Every proposed project that generally meets the requirements above will be supported to some extent, at a minimum through advice and consultation with ULC or GMCTE staff. Projects requiring funds to pay direct student stipends or offset direct student costs will be considered for funding allocation. Funding allocations from the Experiential Learning Fund to offset these types of direct costs incurred will be determined as follows:

  • Funding allocations up to the value of $5000 may be authorized by the Director of the University Learning Centre, and possibly on the basis of an initial proposal alone
  • Proposals for larger amounts of funding must be reviewed/approved by the Teaching Innovation Committee, chaired by the Vice-Provost Teaching and Learning.
  • Membership on this Teaching Innovation Committee is established by the VPTL.
  • The teaching Innovation Committee will regularly consider project proposals and will make timely decisions.
  • The Teaching Innovation Committee will determine a schedule for releasing funds to the unit, appropriate to the budget and project milestones.

The following criteria will be taken into consideration when adjudicating applications:

  • Evidence of a strong commitment shown by the department(s)/college(s) to the experiential learning initiative (Proposals might include statements of support from Deans or Department Heads.)
  • A clear indication of how the experiential learning component or activity fits with the unit's overall academic program and integrated plan.
  • To what extent is the experience related to identified institutional priorities (undergraduate research, community-engaged learning, Aboriginal education, internationalization, and innovative uses of learning technologies)?
  • Is there a clear commitment of a lead person or team of people (whether disciplinary or interdisciplinary) to see the project through to implementation?
  • How compelling is the case regarding the expected positive impact on student learning or the student learning experience?
  • How many undergraduate students are being engaged as part of the proposed experiential learning project?

Terms of Reference

Projects supported by the Experiential Learning Fund should have a direct student focus - providing opportunities for experiential learning that go beyond current programs.  The primary purpose of the fund is to provide assistantships or stipends for students that either help to offset direct costs students would otherwise incur in curricular experiential learning, or to employ graduate or undergraduate students on a casual or part-time basis to multiply curricular experiential-learning opportunities for other students.  

Some examples of projects that may be eligible for funding under the Experiential Learning initiative include:

  • Employing a graduate student for a period of time to help a faculty member develop an experiential learning component of an undergraduate course. 
  • Employing a senior undergraduate student or graduate student to accompany or assist with supervision of junior students in an experiential learning setting.
  • Paying or subsidizing fees (external to the U of S) associated with student experiential learning opportunities.
  • Subsidizing transportation or accommodation costs for student travel to experiential learning sites.
  • Providing bursaries for students who otherwise would be unable to cover costs or fees.
  • Small amounts for refreshments at meetings, events or celebrations for students engaged in experiential learning projects

What the fund does not support:

  • The Experiential Learning fund does not normally support travel costs for students in study abroad or taught abroad courses but in inaugural offerings of new courses, some subsidy may be possible. The fund does not pay direct salaries or stipends to students participating in practica, field schools, or internships but may help with salaries of senior students who mentor, coach or supervise those in the field locations.
  • The Experiential Learning fund is not a source of permanent funding for any particular experiential learning initiative, but successful projects may return to the fund in subsequent years to seek continued support.  Projects are expected to develop plans for long-term sustainability. With an interest to promote and celebrate successful initiatives we will request a brief report following the completion of the project and associated pilot activity.

Please Note: 

  • Awards from the experiential learning fund are not research grants and should not be claimed as such on faculty CVs.  Faculty or graduate student research projects should not be financed with proceeds from this fund. Undergraduate research associated with a course or the students' academic programs can be supported.  This fund is not intended for hiring an undergraduate summer student to assist in a research project.
  • Costs associated with course or program re-design to incorporate experiential learning into courses or academic programs may be eligible for a grant in aid from the Curriculum Innovation Fund. Funding for projects that involve undergraduate research initiatives will be coordinated, where appropriate, with the Office of the Vice-President Research.  Funding for projects that involve community outreach or community-engaged learning will be coordinated with the Office of Outreach and Engagement.

Past Recipients

For a list of past recipients and links to any publications about their projects, click the link below:

How to apply

Academic units wishing to pursue project support and funding will submit a proposal of 1-2 pages outlining the project idea. These proposals may be submitted to the ULC at any time. In the case of a complex idea or larger funding requirements, we may request a more comprehensive proposal. The Teaching Innovation Committee will judge the more detailed, comprehensive proposals, and successful proposals will receive funding to offset student costs or to pay student salaries.

The initial proposal should include:

  • A brief description of the proposed activity, practice or innovation
  • An explanation of the level of involvement and a primary contact person
  • An estimate of the costs (both developmental and ongoing) anticipated with the project
  • A summary of the expected number of students to be engaged and the anticipated impact on students or the student experience
  • A preliminary plan for measuring success
  • Other funding obtained or being sought for the project
  • Sign-off by a dean or department head
Depending on the scope and funding requirements (amounts of more than $5000) of your project, additional documentation may be required, as a comprehensive proposal. A more comprehensive proposal is prepared in partnership with staff from the University Learning Centre.
The comprehensive proposal should be no more than five pages long and should include (click to expand):
  • A detailed description of the proposed activity, practice or innovation.
  • A set of expected learning outcomes that would result from the experiential learning activity.
  • An explanation of the level of faculty / staff involvement (i.e., Who will lead the project? Who will be involved?).
  • A description of the expected impact on students or the student experience.
  • A timeline for the project.
  • A proposed budget – details about what direct costs would be required from the Experiential Learning Fund and what costs would be contributed by the unit.
  • A rationale for how the experiential learning activity may be sustainable in the longer term.
  • A preliminary program evaluation plan to evaluate the impact of the experience.
  • A letter of support from the unit(s) involved.

It is expected that some projects will need very minimal funding and may be able to proceed largely on their own with some consultation with a curriculum development specialist or instructional designer. 

 Experiential Learning Fund - Proposal Form 

For more information, contact experiential_learning@usask.ca or the University Learning Centre.