Exploring experiential education and post-secondary student employability skills: a twenty-year review

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Dupuis, Cora E.
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Over the past decade, Canadian leaders from across all sectors of industry, education, and the media have called for more experiential education opportunities for post-secondary students, believing they will better equip students with the employability skills needed to succeed in the workplace. This review summarizes research across Canadian post-secondary institutions to examine the link between students’ experiential education and their subsequent development of employability skills. I collected studies completed between January 1, 1997, and December 31, 2017, from four databases, Academic Search Complete, ERIC, Sage Journals, and Scopus, that: (1) focused on post-secondary student participation in experiential education programs or courses at college or university institutions located in Canada; and (2) emphasized the development of specific employability skill outcomes as they relate to participation in post-secondary experiential education programs. Of the 453 yielded results, 42 articles met the inclusion criteria, representing a sample size of 4,739 students. I then assessed and sorted the articles into four outcome categories: positive effect, no effect, unknown/unidentified effect, and mixed effect. The results show promising evidence that the development of communication and teamwork skills through experiential education at the post-secondary level does better equip students to succeed, and it is my recommendation that more Canadian research be done to further understand this relatively new field. Based on this thesis’ literature review, I also created the Experiential Education 3P Model, which visually explains the interconnected relationship between the philosophical, practical, and pedagogical aspects of experiential education.
Experiential education, Experiential learning, Employability skills