Transforming an Exisiting Volunteer Program into a Co-Curricular Experiential Learning Opportunity for Undergraduate Health Science Students

Trottier-Scully, Taylor
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University of Guelph

Work-integrated learning (WIL) experiences in the curriculum have been shown to improve undergraduate student development. However, there are limited opportunities in typical forms of WIL for all students to participate prior to graduation. This thesis investigates whether an on-campus volunteer program can be converted into a co-curricular experiential learning (EL) opportunity. Learning outcomes (LO) were developed to formalize the objectives of the program, and EL elements were added to complete Kolb’s EL cycle. Volunteer participation was tracked and LO achievement was assessed by self and practitioner feedback. Volunteer development was determined by self-reports to validated surveys and responses were considered in comparison to academically similar, non-volunteer students. Volunteers successfully met most of the program LOs. While all students reported improvements in professional skills, volunteers reported larger improvements in communication and presentation skills than non-volunteers. An on-campus volunteer program can be converted into a co-curricular EL opportunity that facilitates volunteer development.

Experiential Learning, Co-Curricular, Higher Education, Work Intergrated Learning