Experiential Learning - Gaining Critical, Lifelong Skills: An Informational Interview with Kimberly Squires

Written by Jewel Lindemann, Senior Peer Helper – Career Services 

Experiential learning opportunities allow individuals to learn through experiences. The University of Guelph provides many courses and co-curricular options to help students learn through experiences. I was able to interview Kimberly Squires who is the Pedagogical Leader at the Child Care and Learning Centre (CCLC) on campus. Through this role, she is also the instructor for the first practicum for students in the child stream of the Child, Youth and Family/Child Studies program. She has been able to witness the impact of experiential learning on students; from infants to undergraduate students. Through my interview, I was able to discuss what experiential learning looks like and the value of experiential learning.


A Brief Background of Squire’s Experiences with Experiential Learning

“I have had many experiential learning opportunities throughout my education, including a co-operative education placement in high school and various placements and practicums while completing post-secondary education. I have learned so much from these experiences and have felt very lucky to have access to them. I now get to teach students as they are completing their experiential learning in FRHD*3200 Practicum I: Child and feel very fortunate to be able to go on their learning journey with them. It is so exciting to see each students' growth and what they get out of the experience. Even if an experience does not exactly duplicate what you are hoping to do in your future career, there are always valuable lessons to be learned and transferable skills to be gained.”


In Squire’s Words, the Value of Experiential Learning

“Not surprisingly, I believe the most important aspect of experiential learning is the experience that it gives. Experiential learning allows you to learn and apply new skills and knowledge and to figure out what does and does not interest you. It is a great opportunity to become more aware of your strengths and areas of growth and can help you decide what you may want to do in the future.”

Kimberly Squires has been able to work with a wide range of ages and experience experiential learning throughout the ages. She shared that “adults in early learning settings also continually learn through their experiences and reflections. Whether we are full-time educators, part-time employees, or students completing placements, we are constantly learning through our experiences and relationships”. Lifelong learning is a core value at the CCLC and is demonstrated through these experiential learning experiences. I can speak first hand on my experience as a placement student. I would walk away each day recognizing that I had learned something from the children. It changed my view of education to see how these children interacted and problem solved. Experiential learning and lifelong learning are “critical for all children and adults in early learning settings.”

In Squires's own words "experience is a critical component of learning. Actively testing out ideas and reflecting on your experiences is incredibly important for development and learning." Squires also noted that the current reality with COVID-19 has shifted how experiences are included in pedagogy. "Right now we are having to replace some in-person experiences with experiences through technology. It has been interesting to consider how we can get the most out of these different experiential learning opportunities and how they might even offer new opportunities and areas of growth."

Experiential learning allows students to have valuable lessons and apply them to their future career path. Want to learn more about the available experiential learning options at the University of Guelph? Check out: https://www.uoguelph.ca/experientiallearning/students/explore-experiential-learning-opportunities