There are generally two learning models used in today’s educational system. They are “experiential” and “academic”. Experiential learning provides opportunities for immersive, hands-on learning through activities, work experience, projects, and problem solving. Traditional academic models use lectures and textbooks to teach course concepts and material. Both learning models have their benefits. We believe that an experiential learning model is more effective for Counselling students.
Rhodes Wellness College employs an experiential learning model. Read on to discover why this is our teaching method of choice and how this approach offers the best preparation for students.
The Most Effective Way to Grasp Key Concepts in Counsellor Courses
Whether a program is based on an experiential or traditional academic learning model can make a substantial impact on student learning. For example, a recent study showed that students who learned in a classroom setting as opposed to an applied setting demonstrated no difference in their test scores (Eyler, 2009). However, the students who learned in an applied, experiential setting were much more creative when it came to problem solving. This indicates that students learning in an experiential environment gain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the subject, which they feel confident applying to new situations.
For students earning a professional counsellor diploma, this is especially important. After graduation, counsellors need to be ready to start working one-on-one with clients. Counsellors in training who learn definitions and concepts and have practice applying them to a variety of situations are far more likely to be able to effectively adapt to on-the-job challenges (Eyler, 2009).
The Benefits of Real-World Experience in Counsellor Training
At experiential schools like Rhodes Wellness College, students engage in a variety of activities with their peers and instructors as part of their counsellor training. Students may role play, have counselling sessions with each other, and participate in a variety of other immersive activities that prepare them emotionally, mentally, and physically for becoming professional counsellors. In addition, students partake in a supervised practicum as well as supervised clinical practices.
Real-world learning opportunities are invaluable to counselling students. Rhodes Wellness College provides second year students with opportunities through a supervised student clinic. By working with real clients before graduating, students can apply what they’ve learned in real settings under the guidance of an experienced professional supervisor. While traditional learning is important for gaining a foundational understanding, its effectiveness any further than that is limited. Traditional academic models that involve only theory and concepts can leave students unprepared for real-world problems. Real-world experience gives students a clear advantage about what to expect after completing their diploma program.
In addition to the academic benefits of experiential learning models, hands-on learning opportunities can open doors for new counsellors. According to a recent study, students who participated in at least one internship during their studies were 13 per cent more likely to get full-time employment (Southwestern University, 2014). Hands-on learning with local employers also offers students the opportunity to grow their professional networks. Many students of Rhodes Wellness College have been hired by their practicum hosts, helping students make a smooth transition into their careers.
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Eyler, J. (2009). The Power of Experiential Education. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/power-experiential-education
Giulioni, J. W. (2013, June 7). Why experiential learning is so important in business. Retrieved from http://www.halogensoftware.com/blog/why-experiential-learning-is-so-important-in-business
Southwestern University. (2014, July 27). What Job Statistics Say About the Value of College Internships. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/southwestern-university/what-job-statistics-say-a_b_5399641.html