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Experiential and Hands-on Learning with CATalyst Studios

A guide on how to adapt courses to include experiential learning and curricular engagement with CATalyst Studios

Your Librarian

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Rachel Castro
Main Library B207
(520) 621-7146

What is experiential learning?

Experiential learning, or the combination of using lived experience and hands-on, interdisciplinary, project-based work to create new learning applications, has been of increasing interest as a tool as students navigate the fourth industrial revolution. The incorporation of experiential learning in the curriculum results in the creation of industry-specific skills and knowledge, transferable competencies that can apply to professional life, and the ability to problem-solve in real time with creativity and collaboration. In response, the University of Arizona has added experiential learning to the Arizona Advantage pillar of their strategic plan, and 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)
  • Trying out a new or revised approach to the experience (Active Experimentation)

Makerspaces are universally known as sites of hands-on exploration and problem-solving, and CATalyst Studios is well-positioned to provide guidance and support for instructors who would like to incorporate a concrete experience via hands-on learning. In an academic library makerspace, students can apply theoretical learning and build technical and design skills.

At CATalyst Studios, we engage with instructors to integrate makerspace technology and design thinking into the curricula, strive to extend the benefits of experiential learning, and introduce students to opportunities to collaborate with others while applying their learning. CATalyst Studio's support for curricular engagement with experiential learning includes (but is not limited to): tours, technology demonstrations, technology or software workshops, exclusive times for certifications, reservations for short-term use of technology or supplies, and guided hands-on activities- tailored to the learning outcomes and needs of each specific course.

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 and a podcasting studio, and a data visualization studio with a high-definition wall. The facilities are open to all members of the community but are focused on serving students of the University of Arizona.

For more information about CATalyst Studios visit our website: https://libguides.library.arizona.edu/catalyst.

If you would like to arrange a course visit or ask CATalyst staff a question you can reach us at catalyst@email.arizona.edu

CATalyst Studio's hours of operation are available here: https://lib.arizona.edu/about/hours?lid=12012&view=month.

For a schedule of workshops, events, and certifications, please see our events page: https://libcal.library.arizona.edu/calendar/events?cid=12248&t=d&d=0000-00-00&cal=12248&ct=46564&inc=0