Reflections and learning from an internship experience
In experiential learning and internships, the real learning comes after the work term when you have an opportunity to think about what you saw and experienced. Reflecting back about the experience is a key to learning and it is definitely not a new idea. In fact, a famous lesson from Confucius around 450 B.C. illuminates the importance of active engagement and real time experiences in learning:
“TELL ME, AND I WILL FORGET.
SHOW ME, AND I MAY REMEMBER.
INVOLVE ME, AND I WILL UNDERSTAND.”
It is through reflecting about the actions at work and the concrete experiences that will lead you to recognizing that the experience has forged a new way of thinking about the classroom theory. An abstract concept worked through in a real situation, as an immediate need, will change the participants.
Below is a diagram of how one contemporary experiential learning theorist, David Kolb, explains how interns learn from experience. Kolb's experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner 'touches all the bases':
[Source: Simply Psychology.org]
but we will continue to need many of the best students to dedicate themselves to research in academic and nonacademic settings, and they will need the depth and quality of graduate experience that basic researchers have long enjoyed.
Furthermore, we are not espousing what some call vocationalism. The idea is not to slot every student into a particular career path and then "train" him or her accordingly. Among other problems, that would bind students to jobs that can change or decline in number while they are in graduate school. What is needed is not additional specialization. We need a graduate system that is well tuned to the central feature of contemporary life: continuous change. Change is happening both within the research world and outside, and work in both spheres requires constant readiness to adapt. Our objective, therefore, is a breadth of experience so that graduates can keep career options open and have the capacity to switch career tracks both at the beginning of and throughout their professional lives.
Controlling Time to Degree. The recommended changes should not be construed as additional requirements that would in themselves extend a student's time in a graduate program. The steadily lengthening time to degreeand, more important, the time to first employmentis already too long, for whatever reasons. Many ways of fostering versatility, including several noted above, can easily be introduced within the time that graduate students now spend after registration. An industrial assignment, for example, might replaceand not supplementan on-campus research assignment.
We are aware of some strain between broadening the graduate experience and controlling its duration. Both solutions are needed, even if considerable administrative energies are required. Although long average time to degree is often decried, faculty and administrators have not generally made the disciplined effort that is needed to tighten graduate programs.
Whatever the nature of a specific graduate program, it is crucial to establish the principle that each student is the responsibility of a department, not of a single faculty member. Thus, a small faculty group (including the adviser) should meet often with each student working for a PhD degree; this faculty group, not the student's faculty adviser acting alone, should determine when enough work has been accomplished for the PhD degree.
Some observers have suggested fixed limits-5 years, perhaps, which is about 2 years shorter than the current averagesfor a doctoral-education career. In the abstract, it is not obvious why such a period, which would allow 2 years of coursework and 3 years for a dissertation, should not suffice for most full-time PhD candidates. However, we are not prepared to espouse strict limits, in part because today's more-diverse student population requires flexibility to accommodate family and other personal factors.
However, we do believe that the "Two Plus Three Plus X" model for doctoral education ought to be evaluated and debated within the academic community. The idea is that preparation for a career in research has three discrete phases. The first, which should require no more than 2 years (assuming adequate preparation and suitable adjustment for part-time students), is for developing a broad command of the field. The second, for which the norm might be 3 years, is for making an original contribution to research as reflected in the dissertation. The third, for refining research skills and specialized knowledge that might be required for a first research