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Experiential Learning with CATalyst Studios

Partner with CATalyst Studios to create experiential learning course assignments and plan hands-on and project-based learning experiences

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning is a pedagogy that utilizes lived experience, reflection, and iterative practice- often using emerging technology or project-based work- to create new learning applications. Interest in experiential learning has increased after it was identified as a tool to build transferrable skills that help students navigate the fourth industrial revolution. 

Incorporating experiential learning in the curriculum develops competencies and knowledge that can be applied to professional life. It can also increase creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. In response, the University of Arizona has added experiential learning to the Arizona Advantage pillar of its strategic plan. Additionally, the University of Arizona Libraries has created an Experiential Learning Unit during their 2021 restructuring, under which the Director of CATalyst Studios and the new role of Experiential Learning Librarian fall.

While the application of experiential learning can vary between institutions and areas of study, most agree that experiential learning in academia can include some or all of the following:

  • Having an experience (Concrete Experience)
  • Reflecting on the experience (Reflective Observation)
  • Using those reflections to create new iterations or ideas (Abstract Conceptualization)
  • Creating a new approach to the experience (Active Experimentation)

Makerspaces are universally known as sites of hands-on exploration and problem-solving. At CATalyst Studios, we engage with instructors to integrate makerspace technology and hands-on learning into the curricula. We strive to extend the benefits of experiential learning by partnering with instructors to create timely course activities and access to expertise that supports learning outcomes. CATalyst Studio's support for curricular engagement includes (but is not limited to): tours, consultations, technology demonstrations, workshops, certifications, reservations for short-term use of technology, and guided hands-on activities.  

Why consider experiential learning for your course?

Experiential learning can provide many opportunities and benefits to your student's academic journey:

  • Creates an environment that allows risk-taking
  • Introduces failure, trial-and-error, and recursive tasks as valuable parts of the learning process
  • Engages in various forms of sensory learning (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, etc.)
  • Provides students with tools to process their lived experience and apply it to both concrete and abstract concepts
  • Encourages cooperation and the sharing of ideas
  • Builds empathy for other's experiences and viewpoints
  • Increases creativity and critical thinking skills
  • Allows students to engage in creative forms of demonstrating what they've learned

About CATalyst Studios

CATalyst Studios is an interdisciplinary makerspace and digital learning space in the Main Library of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. The studios include a comprehensive maker studio, an AR/VR studio with workstations, a green screen cyclorama, a sound-recording studio, and a data visualization studio with a high-definition wall. The facilities are open to everyone but are focused on serving students of the University of Arizona.

For more information about CATalyst Studios visit our website:

If you would like to arrange a course visit or ask CATalyst staff a question you can reach us at

CATalyst Studio's hours of operation are available here:

For a schedule of workshops, events, and certifications, please see our events page: