Experiential Learning Guidance During a Pandemic: COVID 19

Experiential learning is a process through which students develop knowledge, skills, and values from directly supervised experiences outside an academic setting. The experience has intentional learning outcomes and goals for students. Traditionally, experiential learning assignments have been conducted in-person at an organization’s workplace.  However, in a growing number of instances when circumstances preclude an in-person experience, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, experiential learning assignments (i.e., practicum, field/clinical experience, research, co-op, or internship) may be done virtually or remotely with some in-person elements. This document provides guidance to North Carolina A&T State University (N.C. A&T) experiential learning coordinators, students, and employers/site hosts for conducting experiential learning assignments during such times.

Depending upon whether or not a student is pursuing academic credit (regardless if paid or unpaid) the following general guidelines should be followed to allow for the completion of the assignment (as long as clear safety precautions are in place and all parties agree to adhere to those precautions)

When a significant disruption prevents a traditional on-site experiential learning assignment from taking place, the student should first contact his/her university instructor serving as the N.C. A&T academic experiential learning coordinator to discuss options. In some cases, this discussion will include the experiential learning host or supervisor from the site where the assignment was to take place.  Two options are possible: 

Option 1: Converting an in-person experiential learning assignment to a virtual format.

If the host is able to assign remote projects and work responsibilities and provide mentoring through tele-communications, the assignment may proceed. The student, N.C. A&T experiential learning coordinator/instructor and experiential learning supervisor/host should agree on the alternative arrangements.

Option 2: Alternate approaches to obtain academic credit.

If completing an experiential learning assignment remotely is not an option, the student should alert the experiential learning supervisor to explore alternative learning activities that may substitute for the experiential learning experience. If alternative learning opportunities cannot be accommodated, the student and instructor should discuss withdrawal from the course or other grading options. 

Please note that if the student cannot, or is not comfortable continuing in-person (presuming the experiential learning site is open), he/she should immediately speak with the experiential learning supervisor.

If the experiential learning assignment is NOT for academic credit, the student and experiential learning supervisor/employer should decide on an appropriate course of action.  There are three possible approaches: (1) arrange for remote project-based work, (2) conclude the experiential learning assignment, or (3) delay the assignment until the following semester or summer if possible.

Please note that a student who is in a paid experiential learning activity but not receiving academic credit is considered to be independently employed and should discuss any employment matters related to COVID-19 with their employer. The University is not a party to, and has no control over, a private employment relationship.

Should a student participate in-person at an experiential learning site, then adherence to current state and local COVID-19 directives, and CDC guidelines is required. Also, should such a student elect to continue in-person at the experiential learning assignment it is done at the student's own risk. The University has the ability to create remote and/or independent study options for students in lieu of an in-person experiential learning assignment. Therefore, given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, if a student rejects these experiential learning alternatives, the student has assumed full responsibility for his/her well-being.  In this case, we encourage students to:

Should an employer elect to host an in-person or hybrid credit-bearing experiential learning assignment, then N.C. A&T requires that your organization take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of our students during their assignment by adhering to the following:

  1. Provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  2. Comply with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines applicable to employer sites. These guidelines are available via the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html
  3. Follow all state and local safety and health requirements for the state/county in which the employer is located, specifically those requirements related to COVID-19. For site hosts/employers located within the State of North Carolina the Governor's directives for these sites are available at: https://www.nc.gov/covid19 or https://countonmenc.org/
  4. Notify the student’s instructor (if the assignment is based on academic credit) or the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning of changes or cancellations as they pertain to the assignment or health and safety of the student. The name and contact information should be obtained from the student.

 This situation is rare and unprecedented for all. Patience, following guidelines and stay safe.