Additional credit available for every course

Bethany English

A new option at Kent State allows students to earn an additional credit in their course by delving into the community through experiential learning.

This broad term, experiential learning, occurs when students apply what they learn in class to an outside entity. The Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement breaks this type of learning into engaged learning, engaged service-learning and engaged service-scholarship.

Nursing students in their First Year Experience class could utilize this credit, said Tina Kandakai, coordinator of the Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement. If they are interested in working with older individuals, they can add the credit and complete their hours at a nursing home by interacting with the residents and helping the agency.

Kandakai said the original one-credit option began in the Honors College. Over time, it has been expanded to cover a wide range of experiential learning opportunities.

Experiential Learning Categories

1. Engaged Learning – Students learn while serving others in the community.

*Examples include: volunteerism, community-based learning, laboratory simulation, practicum, learning community, international service and internships.

2. Engaged Service-Learning – Students combine classroom learning with direct or indirect service for an organization.

*Examples include: service-learning, project-based service-learning, student teaching, Capstone courses, clinical, creative activities, international service-learning and internships.

3. Engaged Service-Scholarships – Students observe the community and collect information to form analysis to comment on initiatives for social and economic change.

*Examples include: undergraduate research, thesis, Capstone project, community-based action research, international service-based research and community development.

Source: Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement’s website;

“The plus-one credit is designed to meet the needs of our undergraduate students at any level and in any discipline,” Kandakai said.

To utilize the one-credit option, students must fill out an application, which can be found on the OEECE’s website, within the first two weeks of the semester.

In the application, students must explain the connection between their course and the outside work they will be completing. That connection, Kandakai said, is essential to distinguish between volunteering and experiential education. The educational element requires that the experience reflect subject matter covered in the course in order for students to earn the credit.

Beverly Neiderman, a lecturer in the English department and a faculty associate for the OEECE, said the faculty in her department seems interested and that enthusiasm is spreading.

“As we’re getting the word out, people are getting more excited about it,” Neiderman said.

The additional credit is graded separately from the course to which it is added. In order to earn the credit, students must devote at least 45 hours to a service agency, receive a completion letter from the agency supervisor and connect the experience to the subject matter of their course.

Kandakai said this opportunity allows students to collaborate with the community and to feel connected and gain practical experience in their field.

“Take what your passions and interests are, and begin with that,” Kandakai said.

Devin White, senior interpersonal communication major, said he participated in a focus group about the one-credit option about a month ago, and he was interested in the concept.

“I feel experiential learning is needed for everyone,” White said.

White said he thinks experiential learning should be a requirement in every curriculum.

Although he has not added a credit to any of his courses this semester, White said this type of learning comes with a variety of benefits from getting students involved in their communities to strengthening a resume.

But, he is still unsure if people will take advantage of the option. He said he knows most people aren’t wondering how they can add to their workload, and one credit might not be enough motivation to get people interested in working without being paid.

“There are a lot more for-profit people than not-profit people that I know,” White said.

Contact Bethany English at

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