Diversity and inclusion: Using experiential education thinking to promote students taking agency in working with diverse groups of college students for a diverse world. There is no question that diversity/inclusion generally is a compelling issue of our time inside and outside of the college experience. Several members of the lab produced a recent book on this topic using student and alumni stories to illustrate basic social neuroscience principles of relevant unconscious decision-making. This work remains an ongoing interest of the lab.
Reflection on experience: Reflection facilitates the integration of affect and cognition and that integration is often seen as working together in experiential education. This project involves learning from other fields, ranging from Art and Music to Social Psychology and Philosophy. It puts learning in a neuroscience context, and tries to apply it to practices in higher education such as internships, study-abroad, undergraduate research, etc. A particular interest is in the two-way communication between unconscious and conscious decision making processes and its enhancement over time due to neuroplasticity. We also are interested in parallels to mindfulness and growth mindset practices.
Developing professional wisdom: Student development of "so-called" soft-skills, professional knowledge, entrepreneurship, and even wisdom through experiential education is seen as a natural progression with age and experiential activities. This project examine how learning from experience in conjunction with a strong academic curriculum can develop expertise in a skill and thinking area. Knowing the modern view of neuroplasticity, it also looks at factors such as engagement that produce brain and behavioral changes. Finally, much of education and work has become virtual due to the pandemic, and we will look at how this change uniquely affects experiential learning.
Teaching to produce engagement: Applying lessons from experiential education and the classical increase in maturity seen after internships to improvement of student engagement entirely within the classroom (virtual or real-world). The goal is to better reach all students and promote active learning in all students ranging from the passionate to those who are less engaged and may lack confidence. We are using a balanced hybrid, flipped-classroom teaching model with continuous feedback in an introductory psychology class that the lab director teaches every semester and which has research assistance from lab members. These ideas are also applied to the lab directors other courses.