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Mitten Uses Experiential Approach to Education

Denise MittenBIG RAPIDS - With her roots in outdoor adventure education, associate professor of Recreation, Leisure Services and Wellness Denise Mitten knows the importance of experiential education. It’s been the backbone of her curriculum, as well as numerous publications by her – including her recent work editing the textbook Theory & Practice of Experiential Education with peers Karen Warren and TA Loeffler.

“My philosophy in teaching is similar to our founder, Woodbridge Ferris,” she said. “He believed that in addition to theory people should learn through experience – a combination of theory and practice.”

The pedagogy is simple: Create people that are better able to do their jobs after college. The philosophy: Help students become active citizens.

Experiential education provides real-world experiences, actual problem solving that students can expect in the work world, Mitten added.

“This goes beyond learning by doing; it is so much more than that,” she said, noting experiential education is a well-rounded approach to academic success.

Mitten has used her philosophy and her passion for health and wellness to teach 30 different courses in the Recreation, Leisure Services and Wellness department. She has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Minnesota.