Experiential Learning

Commitment to growth

Grand Valley State University is committed to the overall experience of its students, both as academic learners and employees on campus. Experiential Learning is a means of bridging the gap between the classroom and the workroom and allows students to formally direct their employment experience. They do this through establishing clear goals tied to career development or general professional growth. It is our hope that, through the experiential learning process, students will be able to learn professionalism and valuable employment skills in a work environment that is eager to teach them.

“We acknowledge and celebrate the breadth of our professional education and the power of integrating liberal education and experiential learning within it to ready students for life and career. We celebrate our work as a catalyst for economic development of our region and enterprises around us.” - President Philomena V. Mantella



Learn – What you learn in the workroom can be just as impactful as what you learn in the classroom. Both experiences aim to provide you with the necessary skills to succeed after graduation. 

Grow – Experiential learning is about growing as a student, an employee, and as an individual. Now is your chance to experience things you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Take this time to grow as a person and prepare yourself for life after GVSU.

Reflect – Ask yourself, "Am I learning what I need to in order to succeed? Am I meeting my goals? Am I willing to try something new?" Ask your supervisor to offer their insight on your progress and be willing to accept feedback.


Mentor - Walk with your students through their employment experience. Be available as a support system and an individual they can trust to provide insight and guidance. Make a distinct commitment to help your student achieve their goals.

Lead - Show your students what is expected of them through providing resources and leading by example. Communicate your expectations clearly and hold your students accountable. Remember that their time at GVSU is meant to be a space for learning and development.

Evaluate - Provide clear and honest evaluations of your students throughout the semester. Remember to provide both constructive AND affirming feedback and be ready to offer advice on how to succeed.

Learning Objectives

One of the distinguishing factors of an experiential learning experience is the connection between the work the student is doing and their overall career development. This is accomplished through learning objectives. Learning objectives are the key component to experiential learning and help a student identify what they would like to learn or accomplish throughout their hiring term. Learning objectives also provide supervisors concrete topics for evaluation purposes, both midway through the hiring term as well as at the conclusion of the term.

The hiring term ranges from a single semester to an entire academic year, depending on the preference of the student and their supervisor. The amount of time it will take to successfully complete the pre-determined learning objectives should also be taken into consideration when deciding the hiring term length.

Learning objectives should be recorded at the beginning of the hiring term and should include three key skills the student hopes to learn. These skills can be specific to the student’s field of study, or more general skill sets they want to enhance. It’s important to make sure the learning objectives are measurable and achievable. Keep in mind that the learning objectives are not all about the student and should also align with goals and needs of the hiring department.

Visit the "General Resources" tab for more information on learning objectives and to complete the Learning Objective Checklist.


Growth is tracked by both the supervisor and student to ensure progress is being made. These evaluations are a great way for students to gain valuable skills for the future while having their supervisor guide them through how to succeed in their field of work.

At the start of the semester, students and their supervisor will meet to create three learning objectives that the student plans to accomplish by the end of the semester. These goals could be new skills the student wants to learn or tasks that relate to their field of study. For example, a student studying graphic design could assist their hiring department with promotional materials or running their social media accounts. 

Throughout the semester, students and supervisors meet again to discuss how these objectives are progressing. They collaborate to find which learning objectives are being accomplished and which ones still need improvement. 

At the end of the semester, students and supervisors meet a final time to discuss whether or not the learning objectives were accomplished and what could be improved in the future. If the student is being rehired for the following semester, this is a great time to either set new learning objectives or find ways for the already created learning objectives to be accomplished in a new way.

Visit the "Student Resources" and "Supervisor Resources" tab to find more information on completing evaluations and to fill out your portion of the evaluation process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened to SE+? Is this the same as SE+?

Student Employment+ (SE+) was initially created during the summer of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program was geared towards creating a positive and engaging work experience for students, even if they were working virtually. Only specific departments and students participated in this program based on the needs of the department and the interest of the students.

In 2023, President Mantella charged GVSU Student Employment to create the Experiential Learning initiative for the entire student employee population. With this initiative, the goal is the elevate the student employment experience across all campuses and provide all student employees with the necessary skills and abilities they need to succeed after graduation. Essentially, Experiential Learning is the university wide version of SE+ and was created to improve the student employment experience overall.


When is this program being implemented?

Experiential Learning is being implemented with the Fall 2023 semester. Beginning in September, all departments and students on campus are expected to participate.


Do I need to submit student learning objectives and evaluation forms to Student Employment?

No. All forms related to learning objectives and evaluations can be held within the hiring department and do not need to be submitted to Student Employment.

If you have any additional questions throughout your employment or supervision experience, please reach out to the Student Employment Office. We'd love to talk. Call (616) 331-3238 or email [email protected] 

Page last modified October 23, 2023