Experiential Learning

“Experiential Learning” refers to planned learning experiences that take place in the community or those that bring the community into the classroom.

Out-of-school experiential learning activities include:

  • information interviews;
  • worksite/industry tours;
  • mentorship programs;
  • skills competitions (e.g., YCDSB, Skills Ontario / Canada)
  • job shadowing and job twinning;
  • work experience and virtual work experience; and,
  • cooperative education.

In-school experiential learning activities include:

  • simulations (e.g., Junior Achievement);
  • school-based skills competitions;
  • guest speaker appearances; and,
  • career conferences/fairs.

Directly or indirectly, all of these experiential learning activities involve students in career exploration. These experiences provide students who are enrolled in courses of all types and in all disciplines with the opportunity to enhance their learning.

Experiential learning activities and programs can take place in all grades, and they can be repeated. When they are organized in a way that meets a student’s life and career development needs, experiential learning can maximize student growth and development, and should be encouraged.

Experiential learning programs and activities help all students to:

  • engage more fully in their secondary school program;
  • discover their God-given strengths and gifts;
  • develop their knowledge, talents, and skills;
  • demonstrate curriculum expectations in new ways;
  • explore possibilities in career fields or specific occupations;
  • apply their learning in real-life settings;
  • make connections and contacts;
  • earn credits in authentic workplace settings;
  • prepare more fully for their post-secondary destination.

Experiential learning should be part of every student’s guidance and career education program, including students with special learning needs. It may play an important role in confirming whether a particular educational or career plan is suitable before students invest their time and money in that option.

Activity/Program Duration Description
* Students earn credits towards their high school diploma.
Career Information Sessions 1 hr – 1 day Guest speakers visit classrooms and discuss their careers
Career Days/Events 1 hr – 1 day Guest speakers visit schools and discuss their careers
Community / Industry Tours 1 hr – 1 day Students visit one or more locations to investigate careers
Job Shadowing ½ – 1 day Pair student with an employee to observe the workplace
Work Experience 1 – 4 weeks A planned learning opportunity (within a credit course) providing short-term work experience
Cooperative Education* 1, 2, 3 or 4 periods in a semester A learning experience for which credits are earned that combines classroom theory and learning experience at a placement (workplace).
Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)* 110-440 hours, possibly over two years An opportunity for a student to participate in an apprenticeship program (e.g., a placement to develop skills, registration with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and /or Level 1 in-school training) before graduating from high school.
Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)* Grade 11 and Grade 12 A ministry-approved program that allows students to focus their high school studies and experiences in ways that prepares them to make a successful transition to a post-secondary destination within a specific economic sector.


For further information on Pathways programs please contact your guidance department.

Connect with us on Twitter at: on Twitter @pathwaysYCDSB and @SHSM_YCDSB