Field Experience: Developing Learning Objectives

Every field experience is unique and guided by the student's learning objectives, as negotiated with the site supervisor and faculty supervisor. The field experience agreement is a learning contract, and as such all parties agree to certain responsibilities to assist the student to achieve his or her learning objectives. 

What are you going to learn? (Objectives)

How are you going to learn it? (Resources and strategies)

How are you going to know that you learned it? (Evidence)

How are you going to prove that you learned it? (Verification)

Choose a site for your field experience that will enable you to fulfill your learning objectives. A site at which you will perform tasks like the job you plan to seek upon graduation may be desirable, but is not necessary: much information work is generalizable across contexts. For example, you can learn preservation-related skills in special collections, archives, or museums. You can learn user experience related skills in almost any information organization.

Resources that will help you accomplish your learning objectives include the site itself and your site supervisor, but may also include your colleagues on the site, the materials and technologies with which you will be working, professional and social networks you can join, and the professional literature that you read. Strategies for fulfilling your learning objectives may include the tasks you will be performing, meetings you attend, committees on which you serve, feedback from your site supervisor, and the actions you take based on that feedback.

For certain types of learning objectives -- those that are more skill-based, in particular -- strategies may involve apprentice-like interactions with your site supervisor and other colleagues at your site, and legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice. 

What evidence will you collect to demonstrate that you have accomplished your learning objectives? Since a field experience is an individualized learning experience, your site supervisor is best equipped to evaluate whether you have accomplished your learning objectives. 

Part of the function of the work log is to provide a vehicle for you to document your growing understanding of these learning objectives and your collection of this evidence. Part of the function of the reflective paper is to provide a vehicle for you to explore the implications of all of the above for you, your course of study in SILS, and your professional aspirations. Visit the Deliverables page for more information on these components.