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The College of Natural Sciences has been examining its teaching strategies and methods to ensure that our undergraduate students continue to receive a first rate educational experience in a rapidly changing world. As part of this reflection, a recent report (see Vision and Recommendation for 21st Century Undergraduate Education) proposed a set of overall learning goals for future CNS undergraduates. The primary recommendation for implementing these goals was to make experiential learning (EL) a defining feature throughout the undergraduate experience.

The CNS 21st Century Experiential Education Implementation Committee was formed to develop a set of concrete recommendations for departments to implement EL across the college. They developed the following three major recommendations (see Implementing Experiential Education within the College of Natural Sciences for the rull report):

  1. Establish a set of EL student outcomes.
  2. Require all CNS students to complete at least one immersive EL activity aimed at meeting a subset of defined learning outcomes.
  3. Encourage broat implementation of EL within the classroom, giving students frequent exposure to experiential learning as part of their standard undergraduate coursework. 

Vision and Recommendations for 21st Century Undergraduate Education

Implementing Experiential Education Within the College of Natural Sciences



A set of 3-year goals list all of our current efforts within the areas identified in the reports above, and we are using this as a roadmap to identify and fill gaps in the experiential learning (EL) recommendations set forth by the college. Here are some new and exciting initiatives aimed to advance CNS EL goals:

  • Experiential Learning Resources Portal
    • Faculty and students can find undergraduate EL opportunities on and off campus. Students can also use this site to setup a consultation to learn more about EL opportunities.
  • Science & Inventor's Sprints
    • Sprints are one-day intensive events bringing teams of 10-25 undergraduates together to work on meaningful and interesting problems. If you are interested in leading a sprint, please use this sign-up form.
  • Inventor's Program
    • Connects teams of students with industry representatives with the goal of solving authentic problems by applying the science they learn in classrooms.
  • Research placement mixer
    • Held once at the start of each semester, this event connects research groups in CNS seeking help to undergraduate students interested in getting involved in research. Please contact Brandon (brandon.campitelli@utexas.edu) if this sounds like a recruiting event you would like to participate in.
  • Texas Excellence in Jobs and Services (TEJAS)
    • These awards support ~25 students who are eligible for financial aid to join research groups in CNS in a work study capacity. These students are also enrolled in a weekly seminar course focused on professionalism in research.
  • Undergraduate research & Internship mentor guides (coming soon)
    • These guides will provide faculty, postdocs and graduate students with recommendations for evidence-based mentoring strategies and practices designed to maximize the learning experience for your undergraduate researchers/interns.

For more information about any of these initiatives, please contact Ms. Lynda Gonzales (lyndag@austin.utexas.edu).

Experiential Learning in CNS

Resources on using EL in your class

For a guide to implementing Experiential Learning in your class, please visit our Experiential Learning Teaching Resources page.