Engaged Learning

In order to prepare our students for their place in the world and to succeed in their careers and lives, we must connect beyond our borders to bring the real-world issues into the classrooms and place our students out into the world for hands-on learning. Students need to turn concepts they are studying in the classroom into practical know-how. They need to grow more adept through practice, have the space to question, experiment and sometimes fail, and learn and grow from those missteps. Taken together, these experiential learning opportunities improve critical thinking, build well-rounded hard and soft skills, and result in a richer and more meaningful transcript and résumé. Today’s students yearn to make a difference with their knowledge and actions, and they want to do it now rather than years after they have completed their studies. RWU students gain the high impact experiences that make them job ready on day one, able to work and live as fully engaged citizens.

RWU will provide our students with the best educational experiences: acquiring knowledge through classroom learning, and then applying their new skills and learning on and off-campus through research, project-based work, clinical practice, apprenticeships and internships, and creative endeavors that connect with our communities and our environment. They will acquire the intellectual habits, practices and passion they will need in order to be lifelong learners, ready and able to pursue any new personal and professional challenge that they will face, embracing the spirit of continually acquiring new skills and expertise.

RWU is committed to closing the widening gap between academia and industry through unique collaborations with our expansive network of industry, nonprofit and governmental advisors and partners. Working with external partners provides an excellent opportunity for RWU alumni to become engaged citizens and thrive in their work and life. And in this way, we are building a lasting and engaging relationship between RWU and the world around us.

When we extend our expertise beyond our campus borders, we strengthen the local, national and global communities around us, while that work also serves to enrich the educational experiences we provide our students. We envision a future where RWU is known for creating resilient communities that can bounce back from disruptions, innovate to meet new needs and thrive. Prioritizing active scholarship provides our community and organization partners with rigorous and relevant insights and research, and the tools to ensure long-term sustainable and equitable practices for their systems and the people they serve. Making a meaningful difference in our society and our planet is the essence of our engaged teaching, learning and scholarship.

Select 2021-2022 Initiatives

  • Implement new service learning graduation requirement across all majors/programs  
  • Expand organization partner networks, including opportunities that align with our new interdisciplinary initiatives
  • Deepen our offerings in the skilled trades and apprenticeships within University College 
  • Integrate academic and career advising to create fully scaffolded, co-curricular learning experiences for students from day one  
  • Develop meaningful opportunities for life-long learning and infuse academic content into Reunion Weekend beginning summer 2022 
  • Pilot new first-year undergraduate research experiences (FYRE) in the sciences with eye toward a fuller expansion for fall 2022 new students 

Embedded Equity

We challenge students to put their knowledge and skills to the test by working on real needs and issues in our local communities, including research, policy work and advocacy that advances equity among our community members.

We must honor, support and acknowledge the communities with which we collaborate. In order to do so, we conduct engaged learning through a social justice lens to ensure we truly collaborate with and respect and value the voices and ideas of our community and organizational partners. That means preparing our students to ethically and respectfully engage in this kind of work, so that they make a meaningful impact within our communities.

Measuring Our Progress

Engaged learning will be measured by the levels of participation of our students in the opportunities we design. And also we will improve the assessment of engaged learning through participation in the National Survey of Student Engagement and its measurement of high-impact practices in the undergraduate experience. NSSE will measure our student experience with six key practices:  Service-Learning, Learning Communities, Research with Faculty, Internship & Field Experience, Study Abroad and Culminating Senior Experiences.  

In addition, we will track and assess the range of engaged learning opportunities that students pursue to satisfy RWU’s service learning graduation requirement. These include community engaged and experiential learning courses; public service internships; engaged research projects; and intensive volunteer experiences. Continued assessment of these engaged learning experiences will enable us to understand better how they contribute to academic success, career development and choice, and lifelong learning and civic engagement.