The Approach

 

Fully Integrated Program

 

Each of the following methodologies has been proven to be highly effective on its own—the innovative concept is using them together in concert. 

Project-Based Learning:

Students are required to address existing problems or challenges by engaging in research, synthesizing knowledge from across disciplines, and closely collaborating with a team to develop solutions. By being required to present and defend the project before an audience of peers, students both model and hold each other to the highest standards. This is the approach that most closely mirrors real-world work, and thus it best prepares students for success in their professional lives.

 

Case Method:

First developed by the Harvard Business School as a method of applied learning, the case method engages students in problem-solving and decision-making when faced with real-life scenarios. The chosen scenarios are complex, multi-faceted, and often have a variety of possible solutions. Students work in teams to sort through the facts, identify problems, analyze the various underlying factors contributing to the problems, and then use sound judgment in deciding upon a course of action to follow. Through the process of discussing, solving, and presenting, students learn the skills of problem solving, the value of a wide variety of perspectives, and how to communicate their own views effectively.

 

Experiential Education:

Educators thoughtfully and purposefully engage students in actual experiences that have been selected for their ability to pose real challenge or provide some connection to a current area of study. Students are asked to reflect on the experience and evaluate their own successes and failures throughout the process. In this mode, students are able to experiment and make discoveries on their own, which frequently are much more powerful than simply hearing or reading about a topic or issue. Guided reflection and analysis impart the habits and skills of critical thinking.

 

Place-Based Education:

Whenever possible, the projects and experiences with which the students engage are focused on the surrounding natural, social, economic, and political environments. By studying and interacting with the real world in which they live, students’ learning is far more applied and relevant to them, and they consequently develop into active, engaged leaders and citizens.

 

Seamless Integration of Technology:

Wireless digital technology is constantly accessible for students to employ in the very ways adults now use it in the workplace. Note taking, email or text communication, photography, videography, document composition, and web search are all functions that can enhance the collaborative learning environment. Students and teachers establish clear norms for responsible usage, and learn to employ technological tools in organic, creative ways throughout the program.

 

Design Thinking:

Following the lead of successful design schools in some of America’s premier universities (Stanford and MIT host pioneering examples of this approach), students are presented with projects that require multi-disciplinary thinking, creativity, and engaged collaboration in order to design and build actual prototypes of products that solve existing problems. Design teams learn through iteration and revision that failure is not an ending point or even necessarily a negative—it is just another feedback milestone along the route to successful innovation.

 

Flipped Classroom:

Rather than waste valuable interactive classroom and field time with lectures and more traditional means of imparting key concepts, teachers prepare videos of themselves teaching those subjects. Students can then use the down time away from their classmates and teachers normally reserved for homework in order to watch the videos and absorb the necessary information. That way, instructors can actively engage the students in applying their knowledge during class time, offering personalized feedback and coaching that can only exist once freed of the burden of content delivery.

 

Expeditionary Leadership Instruction:

Leadership can be taught. Wilderness leadership instruction is based on presenting students with complex challenges, enabling them to make process-based decisions, allowing them to experience the results of those decisions, and then guiding them through an analysis of the entire experience. Students emerge from such expeditions with confidence, self-awareness, sound judgment, personal responsibility, clear communication, and a tolerance for adversity.

 

Authentic Assessment:

If we intend to focus the educational experience on 21st Century skills (critical thinking, analytical and quantitative reasoning skills, problem solving, persuasive writing), we must employ a rich selection of assessments which can measure real academic and intellectual growth. Evolved standardized tests such as the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) are valuable tools, as are digital portfolios that track evidence of students’ progressive mastery of key skills over time. Frequent peer feedback is a valuable addition that can help measure “soft” skills such as communication and collaboration.