Promoting Experiential Learning to Strengthen Growth and Retention

Primary author: Samantha Swindell
Co-author(s): Katie Forsythe; Jon Walter; Diana Baldovinos

Primary college/unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences
Campus: Pullman


The LAUNCH (Into Experiential Learning) Program facilitates students’ participation in a wide range of co-curricular learning experiences (e.g., research participation, civic engagement, internships, global education, entrepreneurial competitions). It does so by connecting students with opportunities that fit their unique profiles (i.e., align with their personal values, play to their strengths, and move them toward their post-graduation goals), extend their training beyond the classroom, and support the development of transferable skillsets that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Through partnerships with Student Affairs and academic programs, 1529 undergraduates at WSU have participated in the LAUNCH program to date. Pre/post assessments have revealed significant increases in personal growth as a function of participating in LAUNCH. Depending on the format of the programming (interactive workshop or solitary worksheet exercises), participants show significant increases in behavioral intention, openness to change, planfulness, and use of resources – all dimensions of growth defined by the Personal Growth Inventory II (a validated measure of personal change). Post-assessments confirm positive evaluations of the program by participants and initial indications to engage in experiential learning opportunities following workshop completion. Logistic regression conducted on first-year freshman suggests that students who complete LAUNCH are more likely to be retained from first-year fall to second-year fall relative to matched controls (i.e., undergraduates who did not participate in the program).

This poster will highlight the details of these findings and LAUNCH’s potential as a program to promote student engagement, success, and retention at WSU.