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What is POE?

Committed to the Study of POE
(Practice-Oriented Education)

What is POE?

POE has three principles:

  1. Explicit Integration of Theory and Practice
    Participants learn theory and then immediately test its validity by applying it to actual situations. Practice is enhanced when informed by theory.

  2. Structured Opportunities for Reflection in Real Time
    Participants are invited to reflect intentionally on their experience while working. We need to intentionally build in opportunities for students and participants to reflect on their experience while doing it, not after the fact. If we wait too long, we may have lost the chance to learn from the vital lessons that are occurring in the moment.
  3. Collective Learning through Dialogue with Others
    Participants involve each other in experience and learn together. Learning can occur collectively in dialogue with others. Although we may initially reflect in private, we need to involve others in our experiences so that we can lean together using all the tools at our disposal.
POE differs from traditional approaches because it formally integrates work experience with classroom study, theory with practice and- in the case of practice-oriented colleges and universities- the liberal arts with professional education. POE includes campus-based programs, such as co-operative education, as well as lifelong learning in the workplace, such as through action learning.

Because the half-life of knowledge grows shorter every year, the ability to keep learning from experience has become an increasingly critical competency. Traditionally, work and classroom learning have been separated by time and space. POE overcomes these boundaries. Trained to continuously reflect on experience and integrate that experience with theory, learners prepare themselves to actively learn wherever they go.

 "The premise of practice-oriented education is that each of the three traditional forms of learning -- liberal arts education, professional education, and practical experience -- can contribute to the others. It is animated by the belief that learning should expand our understanding, widen our experience, increase our skills, and elevate our spirits."

—Richard Freeland, NU President
(Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19, 1999)

"Learning can be acquired in the midst of experience and dedicated to the task at hand, it can be collective such that it becomes everyone's responsibility, and it should free learners to reflect upon the underlying assumptions of their practice."

— Joe Raelin, Knowles Chair
(Work-Based Learning, Prentice-Hall, 2000)

For more information on the historical context of POE, please click here.

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