A snow day and the conclusion of the second annual Guilford Undergraduate Symposium (GUS) makes this a good time to catch up on blogging. The symposium went extremely well. I don't think we had any last minute cancellations; from what I've heard, all the sessions were well-attended; and feedback was uniformly positive from faculty, students, trustees, and even a few parents who were on campus.
A trustee used the best verb: The students were empowered. Because they felt ownership of their work, they were confident and enthusiastic in presenting it. And I spoke with several students who made clear that this kind of independent, original work is a life-changing experience. The quality of the work was great across the board.
By February 2010, can we get more of this to happen? There's certainly work that students could have presented last Friday, but chose not to (perhaps because it was work-in-progress, as if there's any other kind). Can we build experiential learning even more into our curriculum? These are the experiences that students will build from and remember, particularly when it includes the opportunity to present to their peers.
Last year, I would have been happy with 25 presentations; the first symposium had twice that many. This year, I wanted even more than the 67 presentations we had last Friday. The potential is there for much more. Even without a collegewide experiential learning requirement, so much is being done in so many departments as part of the standard curricular requirements. I'm looking forward to GUS 2010.