Let's hear from one of my undergraduates on how learning by doing compares to the typical college fare of courses:
I believe that professors would be much happier if they did not have to stand in front of a room year after year teaching the same things over and over again. All they do, for the most part, is lecture from the same pile of notes every year. Why can't they simply Xerox their notes, assign the required readings, and expend their remaining undergraduate-designated energy answering specific questions or even better, designing alternative supplementary forms of instruction such as internship programs and research studies?
At Northwestern University, especially, there are so many research projects in progress, I do not understand why students are not encouraged to participate. I was actually quite interested in working in an organic chemistry lab during my sophomore year, knowing that such an involvement would undoubtedly educate me in a much more efficient manner and probably significantly improve my grade as a result. However, I was told that I did not yet have enough experience at the time and that I should come back at a later point in time. In other words, I was being told that I should go play like an idiot in my undergraduate lab and do the same stupid experiment that fifty thousand other students have already done. Then I would be experienced. That really makes a lot of sense!
Instead, I spent my time volunteering at Evanston Hospital. Today, I work in the emergency room as a "nursing assistant." I do hands-on work with every kind of emergency that comes in. I have been a part of the wonder of saving lives as well as the horror of losing them. I have felt the relief, the frustration, the tension, and the happiness, which somehow all mix and mingle in the hospital environment. I have experienced these feelings and have therefore learned.
I learned not only about medicine and emergency treatment, as well as biology and anatomy, but I also learned about life. I learned about people, their fears, their beliefs, and their pain. I learned how to deal with people and how to talk to them, not as individuals on the street, but rather as the disoriented and extremely frightened people they often are during an emergency. I drew knowledge from the doctors and nurses as well, learning how they evaluate people and their problems, and seeing how they handle given situations. Their viewpoints and outlooks on medicine have certainly affected how I think today and will undoubtedly continue to influence me as I continue my education.
Quite honestly, I have learned more from my year of working at the hospital than from my two and a half years of classes at Northwestern. Northwestern has not provided, nor has it facilitated my experiences. The hospital has.
-- David Geller
Drawbacks to Learning By Doing
Where am I in the content of the book?