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If you'd like to add your input to the Quality Enhancement Plan, or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jess Boersma (


Applied Learning in Wilmington Swamp

As a student you learn about all of the different careers you can possibly have through your major in a classroom but you don’t get the experience to actually go out and learn hands-on what it is you’ll be doing once you graduate. With this experience, you have that opportunity.


The purpose of UNCW’s QEP, “ETEAL: experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning,” is to improve applied learning outcomes through the application of research-based instructional strategies vital to promoting highest quality learning experiences.

The primary methodology for improvement will be through a three part approach, which includes faculty/staff workshops in applied learning pedagogy through participation in the annual Applied Learning Summer Institute and ongoing collaboration with the Applied Learning & Teaching Community. The third part of the approach involves requirements for integration of QEP-supported initiatives into the curriculum. The effects on student learning will be measured through critical reflections of instructors and students. Although intended outcomes will be specific to each experience, they will align with the UNCW Learning Goals of Critical Thinking, Inquiry, and Thoughtful Expression.

ETEAL's Goals

  1. To improve student learning in applied learning experience through enriching the environment supporting student learning.
  2. To provide faculty and staff with information and resources about high-impact practices in applied learning pedagogy as appropriate to their discipline and responsibilities.
  3. To promote the incorporation and implementation of high-impact practices of applied learning throughout UNCW.

What is Applied Learning?

Applied learning is a pedagogical model that places students in experiences requiring them to integrate theories, ideas, and skills they have learned in new contexts, thereby extending their learning.

ETEAL Student Learning Outcomes

ETEAL draws its student learning outcomes from the University Studies required Component: Explorations Beyond the Classroom (EBC):

  • EBC1. Students will be able to articulate their expectations, the purpose, and/or the goals of the experience in terms of their personal educational development.
  • EBC2. Students will synthesize knowledge drawn from their coursework to address the issues/challenges/questions involved in the experience.
  • EBC 3. Students will be able to communicate the impact or significance on their personal educational development and on others in the profession or in the field at the conclusion of the experience.

Applied learning experiences for the ETEAL initiative can include:

    • Directed independent study;
    • Internships;
    • Course-embedded projects that meet a specific real-world need;
    • Community-based projects;
    • Honors projects;
    • Study abroad (when it involves intentional and reflective applied learning); and
    • Efforts for innovative team-teaching undergraduate research.
    Core concepts of the applied learning objective include an enhanced applied learning initiative for students that could develop/sustain the following key competencies or academic skills:
    • Critical thinking skills;
    • Inquiry/Creativity;
    • Thoughtful Expression; and
    • Other skills unique to each experience.

These concepts will be realized by funded hands-on learning initiatives for the students and professional development opportunities for faculty to take into the classroom.

Interested in finding out more? View our PowerPoint Presentation:
"Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) 2013: An opportunity to enrich our legacy of learning at UNCW"


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