1 Feb 2012

BGSU Journalism Students Benefit from ‘Experiential Learning’

Author: Matthew Thacker | Filed under: BGSU, Spring 2012, Wolfe Center

 By Matthew Thacker

Bowling Green State University senior Rebekah Dyvig attended class field trips when she was a student at the University of Minnesota, but this week she went on her first field trip since

Journalism students waiting to tour BGSU's the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Photo by Matthew Thacker.

becoming a Falcon.

Dyvig, 23, along with her fellow classmates in her journalism class had an out-of-class learning experience on Tuesday by way of a field trip to BGSU’s newest campus facility, the Wolfe Center for the Arts.

Associate Director for BGSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning Karen Meyers says that field trips such as this one can be an invaluable way for students to see how concepts learned about in the classroom actually work in practice.

“You can put people into the experience, but until they think about it and really look at what they’ve learned, they really haven’t learned anything,” Meyers said.

She explained that experiential learning is a “very profound way of connecting all the bits and pieces of one’s major, and seeing how it all fits in when you get out into the real world.”

For example, the journalism students were given a media tour of the new building as a way of learning how a professional reporter should cover such a story as the opening of a new $42 million facility on campus.

Ron Shields, who chairs BGSU’s Department of Theatre and Film (which is housed in the Wolfe Center), gave the students the tour of the 93,000-square-foot facility, which is designed to look as if it were emerging from out of the earth.

Shields said the Wolfe Center’s unique design was inspired by the formation of Northwest Ohio’s geography by the movement of glacial rock across the lands. He said that Craig Dykers, who is the Wolfe Center’s lead designer from the Norwegian based architecture firm SNØHETTA, wanted the building to have a dynamic force that represented the, “moment in time when the rocks moved through Northwest, Ohio, and created the Great Black Swamp.”

Shields said that the opening of the Wolfe Center has been a big morale boost for the Department of Theatre and Film. “I think it’s tangible proof that the arts are central to the life and mission of Bowling Green State University,” he told the students.

BGSU's new $42 million facility, theWolfe Center for the Arts. Photo by Matthew Thacker.

New high-tech amenities housed in the Wolfe Center like the new Eva Marie Saint Theater, which is a black box theater, are welcome innovations to BGSU’s Arts programs Shields said.

Black box theaters are flexible spaces because of moveable audience seating Shields explained. He went on to say that this feature “changes the theatrical event, not only for the actor but also for the audience.” He went on to predict that the new

Eva Marie Saint Theater “will become the heart of the theater program.”

Journalism major Teddie Livingston, 20, a junior at BGSU, said that she would advise educators thinking of using experiential learning techniques like the Wolfe Center field trip to,“Do it!” Livingston said that she feels it is important for students to get outside of their comfort zones and have new experiences.  

Rebekah Dyvig agrees that more educators should use experiential learning techniques. Dyvig who is a dual journalism and sports management major, said that as long as a field trip has a clear purpose, she finds it to be a helpful learning tool.

While Karen Meyers said it was virtually impossible to estimate how popular experiential learning techniques are among BGSU instructors, she did cite several instances of educators at the University using experiential learning techniques.

Most of these come in the form of field trips, internships and community outreach projects (such as environmental science instructors taking their students to help clean up rivers) Meyers said.

Meyers spoke about BGSU’s commitment to promote experiential learning, saying that that is, in part, why the Center for Teaching and Learning exists. “We ask students to get actively involved in their learning and to do some more hands-on kind of things…that’s really our mission.”

The view from behind The Wolfe Center. Its unique shape was inspired by the glaciers that changed Northwest Ohio's geography. Photo by Matthew Thacker.

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