What is a Signature Experience?
Jonathan Gayles on real-world learning
Signature Experiences are courses in which “learning comes alive and students are encouraged to be active in their own education.” Signature Experience courses are further distinguished in four ways:
- Application of the content that students are learning
- A sustained experience, “not merely a day or a week”
- Experiences “not typically encountered in the standard classroom”
- Production of a culminating product that is evaluated by a faculty member
The Signature Difference
Traditional courses are teacher-centered. They are mainly transference of already assimilated knowledge from teacher to student through lectures, discussion, or demonstration.
Signature Experiences are student-centered. They are "learning by doing" where students take an active role in the learning process by experiencing and then reflecting and the teacher facilitates the application of classroom content to real world experience.
Co-ops are full-time, six-month, career-related, paid positions related to a student's academic program. While involved in these field-based experiences, students do not take academic courses.
Signature Experiences are offered in the context of an academic course. Signature Experience courses are courses in which "students are encouraged to be active in their own education." Students will participate in experiences that are beyond the traditional classroom experiences, often by participating in activities outside of the classroom.
Signature Experiences in the Arts provide students opportunities to express their creativity through the production and presentation of a variety of mediums. For example students in graphic design may create logos or brands for clients while theatre or music majors may participate in symphonic or theatrical performances. Other students may sculpt, draw, build, or paint works of art for inclusion in galleries or installations. For example, a team of students completed an installation piece that sits in Centennial Olympic Park for the summer but was previously installed in St. Petersburg, FL and is a statement about the pollution of our oceans and waterways.
39 courses to date
39 in the College of Arts & Sciences
As the urbanization process continues, cities continue to grow and change. Cities face complex challenges and by being in the heart of Atlanta students have the ability to participate in courses that address these issues related to infrastructure, architecture, poverty, crime, cultural traditions and changes, sustainability, urban farming, etc. For example, RELS 4890 explores the history and diversity of religious communities in Atlanta through site visits. While there are several Signature Experience courses that focus on cities, contemporary city challenges may also be addressed through professional experiences, research experiences, and service-learning opportunities.
5 courses to date
5 in the College of Arts & Sciences
As the globalization of our society continues, students must achieve a level of global competency. Students can become global citizens through immersion in global signature experiences, and in particular study abroad opportunities. There are study abroad programs for every interest. For example, students interested in the sports business industry can take a trip to four European Countries – Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – to learn about the European sports culture and sports management practices. Exchange program opportunities where students study at an international university exist all over the world from South Korea or China to Denmark, Italy, or Morocco. Students may also participate in international internships that provide professional experiences in an international context.
42 courses to date
33 in the College of Arts & Sciences
4 in Robinson College of Business
3 in the College of Education
2 in the School of Nursing and Health Professions
As students approach college graduation, most strive to progress into the workplace, armed with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed. Students who participate in professional signature experience courses prepare for their future endeavors by participating in work-related, on-site experiences, specific to their fields of interest. For example, students in the College of Education and Human Development who desire to become teachers must gain on-the-job experience through classroom management and organization practice, as well as student teaching. Marketing students in the Robinson College of Business create a marketing plan for real-world clients, while a Political Science majors in the College of Arts & Sciences participate in congressional simulations to gain first-hand experience with the skills and knowledge required to launch a career in the state government.
105 courses to date
60 in the College of Arts & Sciences
7 in Robinson College of Business
23 in the College of Education
6 in the School of Nursing and Health Professions
9 in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
Signature Experiences in research enhance the research culture at GSU and provide opportunities for students to contribute insight into the challenges facing the 21st century. From laboratory research in Biology to fieldwork in Anthropology, students across disciplines actively participate in interesting, cutting-edge research with professors. Research examples include work on the glass ceiling for women in business, using sound to improve cognitive function, and creating innovative methods of play for preschoolers that incorporate math lessons to help children capitalize on their math skills at an early age.
161 courses to date
132 in the College of Arts & Sciences
12 in Robinson College of Business
8 in the College of Education
6 in the School of Nursing and Health Professions
3 in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
Service-learning provides students with the opportunity to become engaged citizens of their communities and apply academic knowledge to hands-on experiences within the nonprofit and community service sector. Engagement with the community offers students chances to connect with underrepresented or vulnerable populations, and to broaden their understanding of complex societal issues. For example, Public Policy majors in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies work with national and international organizations such as Habitat for Humanities and Books for Africa, as well as local agencies such as SafeHouse Outreach or Saturday School Academy at Big Bethel AME Church.
4 courses to date
1 in the College of Arts & Sciences
2 in the College of Education
1 in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies