Corey Koch

Staff Writer


Under Dr. Anne Kerr’s leadership as president, Florida Southern College has made tremendous strides in experiential education.

Because of this success, Kerr will speak at an upcoming conference for the National Society of Experiential Education.

Kerr will speak as part of a panel at the Annual Conference of the National Society of Experiential Education, along with the presidents of the University of Tampa and Elon University, Drs. Ron Vaughn and Leo Lambert. The panel will share successes in experiential education and describe why engaged learning is important.

Since receiving the William Burke Award, the nation’s top award for experiential education, Florida Southern College has continued advancing in the field of engaged learning.

Kerr defines experiential education as, “the term that denotes a student’s active involvement in the learning process… so [that the students have] a base of knowledge on which [they] will continue to build for the rest of [their lives].”

Kerr describes the engaged learning environment at Florida Southern, saying, “[Florida Southern] students not just listening to a sage on the stage, but [they] are really involved [in the learning process].”

Faculty, staff, and administrators from other colleges and universities will attend the conference to advance their schools in the field of experiential education.

Kerr believes “[this] generation of college students [learn] better with experiential education. [They] are used to immediate feedback… and if you’re just sitting in a classroom, and you’re static and just taking notes, I don’t think that’s going to do it for [this] generation.”

Kerr attributes Florida Southern’s success in experiential education to initiatives such as the guaranteed internships and student-faculty collaborative research.

Kerr said that these create an “exciting launching pad for what students might want to do in the future and helping them figure out… how they might formulate their dreams.”

Florida Southern’s experiential education journey began when the faculty engaged in strategic planning in 2005, setting a goal to become a                             nationwide leader.

Kerr credits the faculty to setting and promptly achieving this goal.

“The strength of the faculty really set the course for Florida Southern to become exceptional and nationally recognized so quickly,” Kerr said.

Kerr also credits the student body for its part in the school’s recent accomplishments.

“None of this would work if we didn’t have a very talented student body,” Kerr said. “The underlying assumption is that the Florida Southern College student body is extraordinarily talented and motivated. It’s a harder [academic] journey for a student [at Florida Southern], because you have to learn more in order to do more. You can’t just coast.”

The future of experiential education looks bright for Florida Southern College.

“We are doing so well with [experiential education] in the undergraduate programs that we will start to take this concept more fully into our master’s programs, and we are starting two new doctoral programs in education and in nursing, and I’m sure others will follow,” Kerr said. “We will begin to incorporate [experiential education] there, into those higher degrees.”

Photo courtesy of Wayne Koehler