ETEAL Experiences in Action

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.


ETEAL is UNCW's Quality Enhancement Plan, a plan which aims to improve the quality of learning for all of our students and faculty. ETEAL itself stands for Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning
which means that we strive to improve applied learning outcomes through the application of research-based instructional strategies vital to promoting highest quality learning experiences. There's a lot that goes into Applied Learning, but in short, when faculty and students engage in Applied Learning experiences, students can learn more easily, gain more professional skills, and become stronger critical thinkers. For more detailed information about ETEAL's Plan and the University's QEP, please see our QEP proposal and response documentation.

At the heart of ETEAL are our initiatives, such as the annual Applied Learning Summer Institute, the Applied Learning & Teaching Community (ALTC), and our funding and support of instructors who create and lead ETEAL-supported Applied Learning experiences. To learn more about these and other projects, check out our ETEAL Initiatives.

ETEAL's Goals

  1. To improve student learning in applied learning experience by 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.

Timelaps Photo of Swansea, WalesPut another way, Applied Learning is an approach to teaching and learning designed to help students gain practical, professional skills, to experience concepts and ideas rather than just hearing about them in a lecture, and to encourage the development of critical thinking skills. If you'd like to see more examples of Applied Learning, check out our Applied Learning Resources, Applied Learning for Students, or The Impact of Applied Learning.Or, if you're looking for more information about Applied Learning and how to get involved, visit UNCW's Applied Learning page and our ETEAL Applied Learning Page.

ETEAL Student Learning Outcomes

While individual applied learning experiences will address specific learning outcomes, every student participating in an ETEAL experience will also take part in:

  • Intention: Students will articulate their expectations, the purpose, and/or the goals of the experience in terms of their personal educational development.
  • Application of Knowledge:Students will synthesize knowledge drawn from their coursework to address the issues/challenges/questions involved in the experience.
  • Critical Reflection:Students will 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.

What does an ETEAL supported Initiative look like?

ETEAL supported initiatives can take almost any form so long as their focus is on delivering a strong Applied experience to students. Some of the more common forms of Applied Learning here at UNCW 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.

View from the seat of a Kayak

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.