Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI)
Messiah University requires all students to complete at least one approved Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) activity prior to graduation. The ELI provides students with a structured framework to engage their chosen experience in a way that leads to enhanced self-awareness, career preparation and community engagement opportunities. The ELI aims to teach and prepare students to articulate their “Messiah story” in a way that is meaningful to prospective employers and their communities.
Overview of the Leadership Component of ELI
The leadership component of the ELI is a supervised, experiential learning opportunity that is completed by serving in pre-approved student leadership roles which meet the general educational goals of the ELI. The ELI leadership component is characterized by specific parameters outlined below, which are closely based upon the common parameters developed for all ELI experience areas, reflecting the National Society for Experiential Education’s (NSEE) Eight Principles of Good Practice for All Experiential Learning Activities.
Students wishing to complete the ELI in the area of leadership must …
Have completed 24-credit hours prior to beginning the leadership experience.
Be eligible for leadership positions as defined by the Office of Student Engagement. Students may not be on academic, chapel, or disciplinary probation.
Be selected for one of the pre-approved leadership positions (see link on bottom of this page). Students may apply for individual exceptions at least five (5) weeks in advance of the end of the term prior to their intended experience (see Leadership ELI Qualification Application form found on bottom of this page).
Preparedness & Planning
Once notified of acceptance or approval for participation in an ELI leadership position, students must …
Sign and return the Student Leader Agreement to their ELI advisor within two weeks of acceptance/approval.
Attend the student leadership retreat in August for orientation and training.
Have an initial meeting with their ELI advisor at the start of the term to determine learning goals, meeting expectations, and assessment plans. This meeting should be focused on pre-reflection, personal inventory, and articulation of a growth plan. ELI Advisors and students will verify to Student Engagement that initial planning has taken place by completing and submitting a signed Learning Contract. The Learning Contract will clearly define learning goals, expectations, and how experience will translate to knowledge.
Meet regularly with their ELI Advisor for mentoring and evaluation.
ELI student leadership experiences are characterized by …
Exploration of self-understanding (values, talents, gifts, interests).
Exercising of influence over people or programs in order to achieve a common goal.
Development in Christian character, calling, and leadership competencies as defined by the Messiah University Leadership Model.
Practice of leadership skills in authentic contexts.
Regular engagement with ELI Advisor.
At least 40 hours devoted to their leadership role throughout the experience.
Successful completion of leadership position.
Student leaders will practice reflection, which transforms simple experiences into learning experiences, through …
Pre-reflective questioning during initial advising meeting at the start of experience.
Regular reflection via advising meetings.
Post-reflective questioning during final advising meeting focused on articulation of connections between experience and personal, career, and community engagement goals.
Completion of reflection questions in Canvas or other mechanism at end of experience.
Completion of ELI deliverables (updated resume and mock interview).
Orientation & Training
The following parameters ensure that both the student leader and the ELI advisor are prepared with important background information about each other, about the experience/context, and receive ongoing development to that end:
ELI advisors must be members of the Messiah University Community of Educators (COE), or Messiah employees as approved by Student Engagement, who will work closely with the student leader on a regular basis. Advisors must complete the Leadership Advisor Checklist.
Advisors must plan initial and ongoing training for student leaders designed to orient them to the experience and accomplish learning goals.
Student leaders must attend the student leadership retreat in August as well as any team meetings, trainings, or workshops as prescribed by the advisor.
Monitoring & Continuous Improvement
Because student leadership learning experiences will be dynamic and changing, it is imperative to maintain well-defined feedback loops between student leaders and ELI advisors. These systems should be able to adjust the experience in order to achieve learning goals and maximize the experience for the student.
Student leaders and ELI advisors will maintain consistent feedback via regular meetings throughout the experience.
ELI advisors will conduct mid-term evaluations to solicit feedback about the learning experience. This evaluation should be used to inform the experience for the remainder of the term.
Assessment & Evaluation
Outcomes and processes should be systematically documented with regard to initial intentions and quality outcomes.
The mid-term and final evaluation will provide the student leader with an opportunity to evaluate the experience as a whole, and whether it has met intentions.
Responses will serve as an assessment of the student’s learning. (Student reflections will be evaluated using an Assessment Rubric by ELI advisor, and will include feedback of the deliverables.)
The co-chairs of the ELI Leadership Advisory Team will conduct regular assessment using data gathered from these processes.
In addition to ongoing reflection during the leadership experience, student leaders must engage in a culminating “deliverable” in which their experience is applied practically.
Students must set up a mock interview appointment through the Career and Professional Development Center towards the end of their experience. Students will be challenged to articulate their leadership experience in meaningful ways and describe how this experience enhances their attractiveness as a candidate.
Students must bring an updated resume to the mock interview with a particular section of the resume that highlights their leadership experience. Leaders should provide their ELI advisor with a copy of the resume. ELI advisors should be intentional to discuss the interview experience with their leaders.
Reflection, recognition, and celebration of learning help bring closure to experiences and contribute to sustaining their impact. As such, the following practices will serve to acknowledge ELI leadership experiences:
Student leader’s deliverable (mock interview & updated resume) serve as tangible results of ELI completion.
At the end of each academic year, student leaders who have or are about to complete their ELI leadership experience will be recognized by Student Engagement.
Student leaders may choose to allow selections from their reflections to be used in future recruitment, promotion, and reporting efforts. Collection of this data will begin to provide definition of the impact of ELI leadership experiences.
Student leaders and ELI advisors are encouraged to conduct end-of-year activities that will celebrate and provide closure to leadership experiences—including the end-of-year appreciation and recognition ceremony.