A Phenomenological Study of Intensive Experiential Learning for University Faculty Professional Development Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: College students need the ability to generalize and apply solutions through reflective practice. University faculty need professional development to use authentic cases to prepare students for the future. Purpose: This study was to explore the experiences of faculty through a year-long professional development program that included a field experience contextually focused on natural disasters. Methodology: This phenomenological study used personal interviews with faculty about the essence of the shared experience. Data were analyzed through open coding, axial coding, and theoretical triangulation from Kolbs experiential learning model. Findings/Conclusions: Participant interviews yielded 32 codes that were categorized into 12 themes and theoretically triangulated into the four components of Kolbs experiential learning model: Experience, Reflection, Generalization, and Application. The concrete experience themes were connection to disasters, to other faculty, and new perspectives. Faculty reflected on their expertise, the importance of engaging experiences, and new realizations. Generalization broadened disciplinary perspectives and connections. Faculty gained teaching applications, including leadership concepts, and humanizing science. Implication: Professional development for faculty using experiential learning can improve teaching capacity for the next generation to solve complex problems of social, economic, and health concerns within communities.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Experiential Education

author list (cited authors)

  • Rodriguez, M., Dooley, K. E., & Roberts, T. G.

complete list of authors

  • Rodriguez, Mary||Dooley, Kim E||Roberts, T Grady