Bridge Experience Program
What are bridge experiences?
The Bridge Experience Program will launch Virginia Tech’s plan for all undergraduate students to learn experientially through place-based opportunities and to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities for success in their future endeavors. This student learning initiative empowers disciplinary faculty to implement a bridge experience requirement connecting students’ disciplinary knowledge and skills to an experience aligned with their post-graduation goals using research-based learning processes.
Typical bridge experiences include undergraduate research, internships, and other place-based experiences. Students will take initiative to identify the right experience for their personal aspirations and goals, will be mentored as they learn, will reflect on their individual growth, and will showcase their learning. Virginia Tech’s goal is for 50% of undergraduate degrees to include a bridge experience requirement in five years.
How did we get here?
A Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a university-wide set of initiatives intended to improve student learning in a five-year timeframe. The QEP is reviewed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and this process is essential for Virginia Tech to continue awarding degrees.
The current QEP launches the first five years of Virginia Tech’s strategic plan milestone to ensure all academic majors have a required experiential learning component. This milestone builds on the “hands-on, minds-on” approach to undergraduate education articulated in the university’s previous strategic plan. Feedback from the university community identified existing strength in experiential learning, and the strategic initiative ensures these experiences are a key feature of a Virginia Tech education not just for some students, but for all students.
What are our desired student learning outcomes?
Best practices will be employed to structure Bridge Experiences in an optimal way for student learning. Students will apply and connect their learning across academic and professional settings; demonstrate professional self-awareness by articulating their personal and professional development; and demonstrate a dedication to using knowledge, skills, and talents in service (Ut Prosim, That I May Serve) to others, communities, and/or their field.
"During my time at Virginia Tech the experiential learning that I participated in that will be most helpful to my future plans was working as a supervisor for Intramural Sports at Virginia Tech. The benefits I gained from this experience are time management, leadership training, organizational communication expertise, and managerial skills. This experience definitely has built a bridge to success in my future career in public health and made my time at Virginia Tech unforgettable."
- Louisa Glazunova, Communication Science and Social Inquiry
How are we going to get there?
To accomplish the five-year goal of embedding bridge experiences in 50% of degrees, academic units will be engaged in cultivating more bridge experiences and enhancing the connection between experiences and academic knowledge and skills. These experiences will be advanced with a focus on equity for all students. Through departmental grants and centralized resources to connect students to experiences, the QEP will make bridge experiences an integral part of a degree. The Bridge Experience Program is the launching of what will be a much longer initiative at Virginia Tech to provide a holistic undergraduate education. To learn more, check out the Experiential Learning website.