Through its century-old experiential learning signature educational environment, Northeastern University has graduated world leaders that serve as change agents in sciences, arts, policy-making, and many other spheres.
Today, this distinctive model of education resonates with a record number of undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies applicants who want to leverage the experiential opportunities Northeastern provides to achieve their highest potential in attaining personal and professional development and be better prepared to serve societal needs. The experiences that the university provides offers the ideal research laboratory to deeply understand the nuanced nature of experiential learning environment with its diverse pedagogical and curricular practices, and cultural norms.
Positioned at Northeastern University, the Research Institute for Experiential Learning Science (RIELS) takes a holistic, multi-method approach to understanding the overall eco-system of experiential learning environment, including mechanisms behind experiential learning’s micro-impact on individual student development to its macro-impact on the potential it has in shaping the future of the workforce. This research is achieved through a network of researchers including but not limited to psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists, economists and network scientists, those who work directly with students and employers, and those stakeholders who are positioned in the workforce and government.
Experiential Learning & Experiential Learning Science
Experiential learning is, simply put, learning by doing or engagement, whereby a learner becomes engaged in a sense making process of a significant experience, an experience that serves as a cradle of learning (Beard and Wilson, 2010). This type of learning integrates theory and practice because “theory lacks meaning outside of practice” (Eyler, 2009). While experiential learning can and often does take place in classroom, lab and studio situations, it is much more powerful and robust when students have multiple iterative and reflective opportunities to use their knowledge and practice their skills in authentic, real-world situations with real parameters, constraints and consequences for their decisions and behavior. Furthermore, experiential education prompts new learning when students are put in unfamiliar situations for which they are not prepared and yet must act to complete a task. In doing so, experiential learning supports development and provides practice in using life-long and self-directed learning skills that students will need to invoke throughout their lives in order to continuously meet new personal and professional challenges.
Experiential Learning Science is an interdisciplinary field consisting of psychologists, sociologists, cognitive scientists, economists, network scientists, and all others who bring together the knowledge, methodologies and approaches of their fields to deepen the understanding of the mechanisms behind experiential learning and its impact on student success in the workforce.
Yevgeniya V Zastavker, PhD
Director of Research Institute for Experiential Learning Science, RIELS
Susan Chang, PhD
Senior Associate Director of Academic Assessment Group
Janna Ferguson, PhD
Senior Research Analyst for Student Learning
Jennifer Lehmann, MA
Assistant Director of Academic Assessment Group
Cigdem P Talgar, PhD
Assistant Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning
Susan Ambrose, PhD
Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education & Experiential Learning
Becca Berkey, PhD
Nakeisha Cody, PhD
Associate Director, Student Development and Global Engagement, John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute
Christopher Gallagher, PhD
Sean Gallagher, EdD
Executive Director, Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy
Wolfgang Gatterbauer, PhD
Associate Professor, Computer and Information Science
Lorna Hayward, PhD
Associate Professor, Physical Therapy, Movement & Rehabilitation Science
Jamie Ladge, PhD
Associate Professor, Management and Organizational Development
Alicia Sasser Modestino, PhD
Associate Professor, Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Economics
Associate Director, Dukakis Center
Corliss Thompson, PhD
Assistant Teaching Professor, Graduate Education
Lydia Young, PhD
Director, Master of Education Program