The Squirrel Life Project: An Accessible Framework for Experiential Learning

Porter, Elizabeth
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University of Guelph

High-quality educational experiences are critical to training the next generation of scientists, but traditional teaching methods (for example, lecturing) fail to provide equitable access, while high-impact methods are neglected despite evidence supporting best pedagogical practices. This thesis presents 1) the development of a scalable experiential learning initiative, The Squirrel Life Project, for large undergraduate courses based on experiential learning and citizen science frameworks, 2) the creation of a citizen science tool software prototype to expand and support The Squirrel Life Project, and 3) a discussion of the significance of integrating nature-based learning into higher education programs. The Squirrel Life Project facilitates high-quality experiential education and community-engaged science, while exposing a diversity of people to their natural surroundings with the goal of fostering human-nature connections.

experiential learning, citizen science, higher education, science education, accessibility