Experiential Learning through
Student Consulting Practice
Experimental learning through consulting
practice for business acts a facilitator and connector, bringing research
faculty, companies, together students and most importantly entrepreneurs to
reflect their studies theoretical aspects via implementing it.
Experiential learning experiences provide
students to complete their personal goals and preferred careers which further
reinforce their course and theory. Furthermore it promotes and sustain student
academic success. Through these experiences students develop communication,
networking, confidence, risk mitigation, leadership and decision making skills
by practicing, analyzing and implementing it which will ultimately solve real
time problem and processes.
The Experiential Learning through Student
Consulting Practice will provide “opportunities for undergraduate and graduate
students to engage in hands-on learning. Through ELSCP student’s will have an
opportunity to create research oriented work, develop their strategies and
concepts while applying their critical thinking thought process, creativity to
real-world problems. ELSCP can collaborate with other universities for
gathering more hands on training sessions and research based programs.
These following well-known proverbs clearly
define the true ethics of experiential learning
I hear and I forget, I see and I remember,
I do and I understand.
~ Confucius, 450 BC
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I
remember, involve me and I will learn.
~ Benjamin Franklin, 1750
There is an intimate and necessary
relation between the process of actual experience and education. ~ John Dewey,
Experiential learning has been a major
component of career and technical education for many years (Clark, R, W et.al
2010) however implementation of experiential learning in career and education
often differs from the research based theoretical framework of true
experiential learning. Knobloch (2003) raised the question or point that many
educators are familiar with ?hands-on? learning but questions this approach to
teaching as actually constituting the principles of experiential learning. Experiential
learning is also stated as learning through action, learning by doing, learning
through experience, and learning through discovery and exploration (NIU,
Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center). It provides leaners with richer, more
interactive, efficient way of enhancing knowledge. Individual or group
assignments, projects using experiential development process make students a
Current learning practices and methods are
more often theoretical based. Students don’t get the right opportunity to
deliver their skills and potentials in real time. However course curricula do
offer students to participate in course projects and research papers. The role
of universities is very crucial because according to their strategies and
opportunities students can excel further and get ready for the real time work.
Experiential learning via a direct educational encounter (Borzak, 1981).
Experiential Learning Theory
Over the years, the topic of learning has
been examined extensively and has received considerable attention in
educational and neurological areas. For example in 2000, The National Research
Council published How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. This
publication addresses such pertinent education pedagogical topics as how
experts differ from novices, learning and transfer of knowledge, mind and
brain, effectively designing learning environments, and effective teaching and
learning. Similarly, many educational research studies have been focused on the
theoretical underpinnings of experiential learning, especially Kolb’s research
on experiential learning theory published in 1984. The term experiential
learning is a broad term, generally used by educators to describe a series of
pragmatic activities sequenced in such a way that it is thought to enhance the
educational experience for the student learner. However, in reality, literature
related to this topic has revealed that scholars in the field of experiential
learning have used this term in two characteristics but significantly related
contexts (Smith, 2001; Brookfield, 1983). For this reason it may be difficult
to fully understand the topic of experiential learning without examining its
The first context of experiential learning
as Smith (2001) described it is the ?sort of learning undertaken by students
who are given a chance to acquire and apply knowledge, skills and feelings in
an immediate and relevant setting. This type of experiential learning could
naturally align with a contemporary career and technical education and/or
agricultural education program, which prepare students for advanced level
occupations in the workplace or post-secondary education. Another example might
be a workforce education development program with a specific focus on
occupationally oriented pragmatic activities where a predetermined level of
accuracy is desired. Whatever the educational setting, the important point to
remember with this first concept of experiential learning is that it involves a
direct experiential encounter with the learning
Wurdinger and Carlson (2010) found that
most college faculty teaches by lecturing because few of them learned how to
teach otherwise. Although good lecturing should be part of an educator’s
teaching repertoire, faculty should also actively involve their students “in
the learning process through discussion, group work, hands-on participation,
and applying information outside the classroom”. This process defines
experiential learning where students are involved in learning content in which
they have a personal interest, need, or want.
Principles of Experiential Learning (EL)
A key element of experiential learning…is
the student, and that learning takes place another or remain uninvolved or
unmotivated and where the instruction is highly structured, students in
experiential learning situations cooperate and learn from one another in a more
semi-structured approach. Instruction is designed to engage students in direct
experiences which are tied to real world problems and situations in which the
instructor facilitates rather than directs student progress. “The focus of EL
is placed on the process of learning and not the product of learning” (UC
Davis, 2011,). The Experiential Learning Process Experiential learning involves
a number of steps that offer student a hands-on, collaborative and reflective
learning experience which helps them to “fully learn new skills and knowledge”
(Haynes, 2007). Although learning content is important, learning from the
process is at the heart of experiential learning. During each step of the
experience, students will engage with the content, the instructor, each other
as well as self–reflect and apply what they have learned in another situation.
The following describes the steps that
comprise experiential learning as noted by (Haynes, 2007, and UC Davis, 2011):
1. Experiencing/Exploring “Doing”
Students will perform or do a hands-on
minds-on experience with little or no help from the instructor. Examples might
include: Making products or models, role-playing, giving a presentation,
problem-solving, playing a game. A key facet of experiential learning is what
the student learns from the experience rather than the quantity or quality of the
2. Sharing/Reflecting “What Happened?”
Students will share the results, reactions
and observations with their peers. Students will also get other peers to talk
about their own experience, share their reactions and observations and discuss
feelings generated by the experience. The sharing equates to reflecting on what
they discovered and relating it to past experiences which can be used for
3. Processing/Analyzing “What’s Important?”
Students will discuss, analyze and reflect
upon the experience. Describing and analyzing their experiences allow students
to relate them to future learning experiences. Students will also discuss how
the experience was carried out, how themes, problems and issues emerged as a
result of the experience. Students will discuss how specific problems or issues
were addressed and to identify recurring themes.
4. Generalizing “So What?”
Students will connect the experience with
real world examples, find trends or common truths in the experience, and
identify “real life” principles that emerged.
5. Application “Now What?”
Students will apply what they learned in
the experience (and what they learned from past experiences and practice) to a
similar or different situation. Also, students will discuss how the newly
learned process can be applied to other situations. Students will discuss how
issues raised can be useful in future situations and how more effective
behaviors can develop from what they learned. The instructor should help each
student feel a sense of ownership for what was learned.
Instructor Roles in
In experiential learning, the instructor guides rather than directs the
learning process where students are naturally interested in learning. The
instructor assumes the role of facilitator and is guided by a number of steps
crucial to experiential learning as noted by (Wurdinger & Carlson, 2010).
1. Be willing to accept a less teacher-centric role in the classroom.
2. Approach the learning experience in a positive, non-dominating way.
3. Identify an experience in which students will find interest and be
4. Explain the purpose of the experiential learning situation to the
5. Share your feelings and thoughts with your students and let them
know that you are learning from the experience too.
6. Tie the course learning objectives to course activities and direct
experiences so students know what they are supposed to do.
7. Provide relevant and meaningful resources to help students succeed.
8. Allow students to experiment and discover solutions on their own.
9. Find a sense of balance between the academic and nurturing aspects
10. Clarify students?
and instructor roles.
Student Roles in
experiential learning are those in which students decide themselves to be
personally involved in the learning experience (students are actively
participating in their own learning and have a personal role in the direction
of learning). Students are not completely left to teach themselves; however,
the instructor assumes the role of guide and facilitates the learning process.
The following list of student roles has been adapted from (UC-Davis, 2011 and
Wurdinger & Carlson, 2010).
1. Students will be involved in problems which are practical, social
2. Students will be allowed freedom in the classroom as long as they
make headway in the learning process.
3. Students often will need to be involved with difficult and
challenging situations while discovering.
4. Students will self-evaluate their own progression or success in the
learning process which becomes the primary means of assessment.
5. Students will learn
from the learning process and become open to change. This change includes less
reliance on the instructor and more on fellow peers, the development of skills
to investigate (research) and learn from an authentic experience, and the ability
to objectively self-evaluate one’s performance.
Learning Opportunities at Illinois Business Consulting, University of Urbana Champaign.
Educating tomorrow’s managers, engineers,
entrepreneurs, and CEOs to integrate cutting-edge business principles, science,
and technology to help build a sustainable and prosperous future.
Helping companies understand and adopt
value-creating sustainable practices, remain in the forefront of sustainable
innovation, and create collaborative, cross-sector partnerships with a range of
Attracting top faculty, creating
opportunities for collaboration, and supporting high-impact research in
business strategies for sustainability
areas where the consulting services is provided.
Analysis & Marketing Strategy
Who is our ideal customer and how does our
product meet their needs?
How big is the market and what are the
growth and consumer preference trends?
What is the competitive landscape and how
should we position ourselves to succeed?
How does our pricing impact our
We know who our customers are, but how do
we reach them?
What channels should we use to get our
product into the customers’ hands?
What kind of packaging will best attract
the customer? Where our product should be placed?
How will a 10% decrease in annual revenue
impact our bottom line?
What is the most cost-effective approach
to building or procuring a new storage facility?
Is there a better way to forecast our MRO
budget in order to fix and replace assets before they are broken?
Logistics & Supply Chain
How can we optimize the process flow in
the hospital’s Emergency Department in order to decrease patient waiting times?
What algorithms should be used to best
manage the ongoing transportation of hundreds of rail cars and the products
How can we ensure that our 2nd and 3rd
tier supplies comply with our company policies?
How do we create new and younger leaders
in our company when the majority of our workforce is older and may not provide
the environment your students?
What are millennials looking for in a job
and career and how can we position ourselves to attract these students?
What is the best way to organize our staff
in order to foster a sense of unity and cohesion?
How can we better display our data in ways
that will make it easier for us to make decisions?
Of all the data we collect, which is
important and which should we keep track of?
that students get after involving from this program
Illinois Business Consulting provides an
unparalleled professional development experience to the students.
Being a part of the program students will:
problem-solving and decision-making skills
and deliver compelling presentations to executives
to influence peers and manage inter-disciplinary teams
various job functions and industries
into a network of outstanding companies, elite students and influential alumni
Learning Opportunities at Northern Illinois University:
Since 2000, The Experiential Learning
Center (ELC) in the College of Business has been connecting “teams of NIU
students with organizations to tackle real-world business issues. From software
evaluation to emerging market analysis projects, students serve as consultants
addressing non-mission critical, cross functional business issues. Throughout
the 16-week semester, Business ELC teams are guided by a faculty coach and assisted
by an organizational sponsor. To each unique project, teams apply the Business
ELC project methodology, as well as the knowledge, skills and theories learned
in the classroom” (ELC 2001).
Luke Cuculis, SENIOR MANAGER
PhD student in Chemistry (3rd year/2016 graduation)
is it like to be a Senior Manager in IBC?
Working as a project manager is like being the coach,
team captain, team manager, and water boy for a sports team – it’s a tremendous
responsibility but also tremendously rewarding. ) Working as a senior manager
allows you to really understand the organization of IBC and contribute to its
success from multiple levels – both at the level of mentoring and guiding
project teams, and shaping the organization as a whole.
your favorite experience at IBC?
Last semester, as a project manager, things were coming
down to the wire for my team in preparation for our final deliverable. One of
the late nights we got together to work on the slide deck I brought fresh
cookies from Insomnia Cookies and we all ate and worked and felt very full and
accomplished as we finished the presentation.
the most exciting project you’ve work on with IBC?
A major agricultural company was not seeing widespread
consumer adoption of a new technology they developed. My team uncovered several
root causes to the issue, and in doing so got the attention of some of the top
level management with our analysis and recommendations.
is the value of IBC to you personally?
As someone who came to IBC without having taken so
much as a single business course, IBC has provided me with an invaluable
education in business strategy, and in further contrast to classes, a sense of
camaraderie and support that no classroom can offer.