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Earning Experiential Learning Credits

About Experiential Learning Credits

While in the Honors EXCEL program, students must complete a total of six credits of experiential learning over at least two semesters (fall, spring, and/or during the summer). These credits can be completed in any semester in which the student is enrolled in the Honors EXCEL program. These experiential learning credits represent a program requirement, which means that a student needs to acquire these credits in order to complete the Honors EXCEL program.

Experiential learning refers to work done specifically toward your Honors EXCEL project, whether through research, internships, creative arts and design, study abroad or service.

Please note that the approval process involves several steps, usually involving a dialogue between Honors EXCEL staff, the student and the instructor teaching the course. Please make sure to submit your initial request with plenty of time to spare for this process to occur by the dates outlined in the suggested timeline below. Note that the deadline for completing this process and receiving final approval is 5 PM on the University add/drop deadline for any given semester (check the Registrar's Website for current dates). Courses not submitted and approved by this deadline will not be considered for experiential learning credit.

Below you can find a detailed description of the kinds of courses that a student can use to acquire experiential learning credits, a step-by-step guide for the request and approval process, as well as a proposed timeline that should help you plan ahead.

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How to Acquire Experiential Learning Credits

Experiential learning credits are acquired by enrolling in courses that integrate both regular academic content, as well as time and space to work specifically on your Honors EXCEL project. In this context, “work” can mean both the physical work of doing or creating something, as well as the intellectual work of reading, asking questions, collaborating and thinking deeply.

Typically, one credit hour is defined as three hours of work per week for 15 weeks (a normal semester), for a total of 45 hours by semester’s end. This is in accordance with the credit hour definition approved by the university.

Which Courses Qualify

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

In order to be used for experiential credits, a course has to include all the components (requirements) listed below.

  • Substantial time dedicated specifically to working on the Honors EXCEL project. This may vary depending on the student, the course and the project. The important distinction is that there is time to work on the project itself, not only on skills or ideas related to the project.
  • A portfolio to document work completed toward the Honors EXCEL project, such as a lab notebook, field notes, business documents, creative work, articles reviewed, etc. The goal is to demonstrate the work completed.
  • A reflective component, such as a journal or formal notes that make observations about past work, consider progress so far, troubleshoot issues, or reflect on one’s growth as a scholar.
  • A summative assessment, such as a final paper, presentation or performance that summarizes and synthesizes the work completed this semester, and documents progress so far.

EXAMPLES OF APPLICABLE COURSES

The best courses for this purpose are those that allow the student to choose the topics of class projects or products. Usually these are upper-level courses (300- or 400-level), which may be titled “Field Experience” (e.g., EXPH 491), “Independent Study” (e.g., MKTG 495) or “Research” (e.g., HIST 497), although other course numbers and titles may also be used.

You may wish to take a course that is in your major, but also provides you with skills, time and space that you would expend toward your Honors EXCEL project. This is useful because the credits accumulated in the course can be counted both toward the Honors EXCEL experiential learning credits and toward your degree requirements, if the course meets the requirements of both programs.

If there is no appropriate course in your major, you should consider whether work that fits your project can be completed by taking a course from another major or college on campus.

Finally, if you cannot find any appropriate courses either in your major or elsewhere, you can always use the Honors Independent Study (HONR 495) course for the same purpose.

USE OF PAID EXPERIENCES FOR EXPERIENTIAL CREDITS

If a student desires to use a paid internship/experience to earn Honors EXCEL experiential learning credits, the following actions need to be completed. 

  • The experience first needs to be approved by the student's department and the college for use in a 491 course (or appropriate internship course). 
  • If 1) those two units approve that experience within the confines of the 491 course (or appropriate internship course) and 2) the course meets the Honors EXCEL experiential learning guidelines and 3) is tied to the student's Honors EXCEL project (onus is on the student to make the linkage between the internship/experience and their Honors EXCEL project explicit) then those credits can be applied towards Honors EXCEL. 

NOTE: You need to ask your academic advisor about any financial aid implications of taking additional courses. Remember that the credits accumulated in your chosen course will only count toward your degree if the given course meets the requirements of your degree. Ultimately, you must consult your academic adviser to help you identify the most appropriate courses.

How to Obtain Approval for an Experiential Learning Course: A Step-by-Step Guide

All experiential learning needs to be approved by an Honors EXCEL staff member prior to the start of the experience. Retroactive approval will not occur. The final program approval for fall or spring semester experiential learning courses needs to be received by 5 PM on the University sanctioned add/drop deadline date. For summer experiential learning, approval must be granted BEFORE starting your experience.

Step-by-Step Guide

The process of being approved for an experiential learning course has four main steps, which need to be completed by the university’s add/drop deadline:

  1. Student contacts instructor teaching the given course.
  2. Student submits syllabus agreed with instructor for Honors EXCEL approval. The student will upload the course syllabus into the Honors EXCEL eCampus platform under the “Submit Experiential Learning Syllabus” option. Make sure to include the syllabus received from the instructor in your request form. On the form, for each listed requirement, select the option “included in the syllabus above.” Ignore the “syllabus agreement” section at the bottom of the form. Students need to work with the individual who will be evaluating their course materials to develop a grading scale for each assignment and the overall course. This information needs to be incorporated into the finalized course syllabus.
  3. Honors EXCEL staff evaluates the syllabus proposal and has a conversation with the instructor and the student for any necessary adjustments.
  4. The proposed syllabus is formally approved by the Honors EXCEL program, which means that the course has been accepted for acquiring experiential learning credits. A note will be added in DegreeWorks to indicate approval and completion status. Students should refer to the note section of DegreeWorks to ascertain how many credits are still required to complete their Honors EXCEL experiential learning requirements.

Remember that the final approval from the Honors EXCEL program needs to be received by the University’s add/drop deadline for the given semester. Therefore, please make sure to submit your request ahead of time so that the process can be completed by the deadline.

Overall, there are three options for earning experiential learning credits. Below, find detailed instructions on how to process through these steps for each of these options. and fulfill your Honors EXCEL program requirements.

Option 1

A course from your major or another major that meets all of the requirements of experiential learning (e.g., ENGL318, BIOL486, MAE491)

  1. Student contacts the instructor, explains their purpose and obtains instructor pre-approval.
  2. Student requests a course syllabus from the instructor.
  3. Student uploads the course syllabus into the Honors EXCEL eCampus platform under the “Submit Experiential Learning Syllabus” option. Make sure to include the syllabus received from the instructor in your request form. On the form, for each listed requirement, select the option “included in the syllabus above.” Ignore the “syllabus agreement” section at the bottom of the form. Students need to work with the individual who will be evaluating their course materials to develop a grading scale for each assignment and the overall course. This information needs to be incorporated into the finalized course syllabus.
  4. After the student receives email confirmation from Honors EXCEL that their request was approved, they should register for the course using STAR or Schedule Builder from their WVU Student Portal. It is the responsibility of the student to register for the appropriate number of credits.
  5. A note will be added in DegreeWorks to indicate approval and completion status. Students should refer to the note section of DegreeWorks to ascertain how many credits are still required to complete their Honors EXCEL experiential learning requirements.
Option 2

A course from your major or another major that meets most, but not all, of the requirements of experiential learning.

  1. Student contacts the instructor, explains their purpose and obtains instructor pre-approval.
  2. Student requests a course syllabus from the instructor. Determine which requirements for experiential learning are not included in the course syllabus. Work with your instructor to determine how the missing experiential learning requirements will be met through your work in the class and how that work will be assessed.
  3. Student will upload and complete the syllabus submission on eCampus. On the form, for any required component that is included in the syllabus, select “included in the syllabus above.” For any required component not included in the syllabus, select “see syllabus agreement below.” Then, describe how those missing requirements will be met using the “syllabus agreement” section of the form, which is located at the bottom of the form. We will email your instructor to confirm their agreement with this syllabus agreement. Students need to work with the individual who will be evaluating their course materials to develop a grading scale for each assignment and the overall course. This information needs to be incorporated into the finalized course syllabus.
  4. After the student receives email confirmation from Honors EXCEL that their request was approved, the student should register for the course using STAR or Schedule Builder from their WVU Student Portal. It is the responsibility of the student to register for the appropriate number of credits.
  5. A note will be added in DegreeWorks to indicate approval and completion status. Students should refer to the note section of DegreeWorks to ascertain how many credits are still required to complete their Honors EXCEL experiential learning requirements.
Option 3

Either a course from your major or another major that does not have a syllabus or the HON 495 course (Honors Independent Study).

  1. Student contacts the instructor and/or their project mentor and explains their purpose. Work with the instructor to create a syllabus that would meet all the experiential learning requirements using this syllabus template [PDF]. (Note that the instructor of record for HON 495 for Spring 2022 is Dr. Damien Clement.)
  2. Student uploads and completes the syllabus submission on eCampus. Submit the syllabus created with the instructor. Because you used the syllabus template, we expect that all the experiential learning requirements have been met in your course syllabus. On the form, for each listed requirement select the option “included in the syllabus above.” Ignore the “syllabus agreement” section at the bottom of the form. We will contact the instructor to confirm their agreement with the submitted syllabus. Students need to work with the individual who will be evaluating their course materials to develop a grading scale for each assignment and the overall course. This information needs to be incorporated into the finalized course syllabus.
  3. After the student receives email confirmation from Honors EXCEL that their request was approved, the student should register for the course using STAR or Schedule Builder from their WVU Student Portal. It is the responsibility of the student to register for the appropriate number of credits.
  4. A note will be added in DegreeWorks to indicate approval and completion status. Students should refer to the note section of DegreeWorks to ascertain how many credits are still required to complete their Honors EXCEL experiential learning requirements.

Suggested Timeline

Here is a proposed timeline to help students plan ahead for the process of submitting their request, allowing ample time for a dialogue between Honors EXCEL staff, the instructor and the student to occur prior to final approval for the proposed experiential learning course.

Step 1: Pre-registration

This step should happen during the pre-registration period of each semester.
  • Identify an appropriate course to use for experiential credit.
  • Contact the instructor, explain your purpose and obtain their pre-approval for you to use their course for Honors EXCEL credit.
  • Ask instructor for a tentative syllabus for the course. You may need to use the syllabus template to create your own syllabus.

Step 2: Syllabus Submission

This step should happen at least two weeks prior to the add/drop deadline of the semester in which you are seeking approval.
  • Submit the syllabus and potentially a syllabus addendum through the eCampus submission tool.
  • This syllabus will be evaluated by the Honors EXCEL program staff. Usually, it will incur some changes that will need to be discussed with the course faculty. Please allow sufficient time for this process to happen.

Step 3: Honors EXCEL Program Approval

This step needs to be concluded at the beginning of the semester, before the add/drop deadline.
  • After you receive approval, you should register for the course (making sure to select the appropriate credit hours).

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