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IUPUI Office of the Registrar
Experiential Learning Notations
Graduate Courses

IUPUI Policy and Procedure
January 2006
Background and Policy

Background and Policy


In an effort to identify and track specific community-based learning experiences and other experiential learning experiences, notations have been approved for addition to the official Indiana University transcript.

For Undergraduate Classes, experiential experiences are reflected as part of the IUPUI RISE to the Challenge.

For Graduate Classes, an explanation of what constitutes experiential learning, what courses might qualify, and how these notations would appear on a student’s transcript is outlined below.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning is defined as formal, supervised learning experiences that rely substantially on students’ applying through direct experience the knowledge and information acquired through reading, simulations or electronic exercises, faculty instruction, or other modes of learning directly within the context and duration of the course. Consequently, experiential learning entails the integration of

  • knowledge—the concepts, facts, and information acquired through formal learning and past experience;
  • activity—the application of knowledge to a “real world” setting; and
  • reflection—the analysis and synthesis of knowledge and activity to create new knowledge.

Experiential learning may occur on campus, in the community, or both. Although many co-curricular student activities can also be categorized as experiential learning, approval for transcript notations applies only to those activities that are linked to students’ academic coursework.

The intent of this policy is to permit academic units, faculty, and students to understand and to record these types of learning and, further, to identify which are based substantially in the community, either in off-campus settings or applied to off-campus situations. In making decisions about the classification of experiential learning, judgment of individual faculty and approval of the academic department will be required. These guidelines have been developed to provide assistance in this process, and to ensure consistency across campuses. The recognized categories of experiential learning are specified below.

Categories of Experiential Learning

The following list provides definitions of the types of experiential learning courses that will be tracked on transcripts and other official documents issued through the Office of the Registrar. Most of these definitions have been adapted from established, nationally referenced sources (see references section below).

All courses listed on the transcript must meet the criteria noted above.
Clinical education: Entails the practice of learned didactic and experiential skills, most frequently in health care and legal settings, under the supervision of a credentialed practitioner.

Cooperative education: Special program offered by a department or school in which students alternate work and study, usually spending a number of weeks in study (typically full-time) and a number of weeks in employment away from campus (typically full-time). Alternatively, cooperative education may occur when students simultaneously attend classes part-time and work part-time during consecutive school semesters in an intentionally planned and coordinated way. Students receive academic credit for cooperative education when the experiences meet the criteria for credit (i.e., faculty supervision, reflective components, evidence of learning).

Field work: Supervised student research or practice carried out away from the institution and in direct contact with the people, natural phenomena, or other entities being studied; especially frequent in fields including anthropology, archaeology, sociology, social work, earth sciences, and environmental studies.

Internship: Sustained work experience in a student’s field of interest assessed by a faculty member and supervised by an employer who is not the faculty member. Work can be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, on-campus or off-campus. The design of the internship determines whether or not the student may earn academic credit or have a formal transcript notation.

Practicum: A course or student exercise involving practical experience in a work setting (whether paid or unpaid) as well as theoretical study, including supervised experience as part of professional pre-service education.

Service learning: A course or competency-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students (a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and (b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and (c) an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

Student teaching: A student in pre-professional and pre-service teacher education who is gaining required and evaluated experience in supervised teaching.

Study abroad: Students earn academic credit for coursework that occurs outside of one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia.

Identifying Attributes of Experiential Learning in Community Settings

In order to more fully track the richness and variations of students’ experiential learning on their transcripts and to identify which of the experiences occurred substantially in the community, each campus may identify appropriate courses with the following designations. The following formal designators may be applied to any course in the categories noted above. They may be used individually or in combination with each other.

Community-based research: This includes, but is not limited to, field work, e.g., courses in which students complete research in which they collect data in a community setting and/or share findings with community entities in a service-learning course or an internship.
          Approved Transcript Notation: Community Based Research

Service-learning: Courses in which students participate in service learning as defined above.
          Approved Transcript Notation: Organized Community Service Activity

Community: Courses in which students spend a significant amount, e.g., one-third, of their time in a community setting in ways that contribute to learning objectives of the course.
          Approved Transcript Notation: Significant Time in Community Setting

Immersion: Courses in which students are immersed in a culture different from one’s own while extending the study of the course content. Such courses include, but are not limited to, courses taken as part of a study abroad experience. They may also include field work, practica, internships, and all other categories defined above, provided such experiences involve immersion in a culture different from that of the student.
          Approved Transcript Notation: Immersed in Different Culture


For graduate courses where all enrolled students are expected to complete one or more of the community-based requirements, the specific requirement will be added to the course via a request from the course department. Experiential learning notations are segmented into categories of Service or other Experiential Learning as follows:


  • Community Based Research
  • Organized Community Service Activity
  • Significant Time in Community Setting
  • Immersed in Different Culture
  • Community Based Research & Organized Community Service
  • Significant Time in Community Based Research
  • Community Based Research in Different Culture
  • Significant Time in Organized Community Service
  • Organized Community Service Immersed in Diff Culture
  • Significant Community Time Immersed in Diff Culture


  • Community Based Research
  • Organized Community Service Activity
  • Significant Time in Community Setting
  • Immersed in Different Culture
  • Community Based Research & Organized Community Service
  • Significant Time in Community Based Research
  • Community Based Research in Different Culture
  • Significant Time in Organized Community Service
  • Organized Community Service Immersed in Diff Culture
  • Significant Community Time Immersed in Diff Culture

The additional class requirement will be viewable to a student in the on-line schedule of classes/course offerings, in self-service registration, and on the student study list.

At the end of each term, faculty will be required to enter course grades as well as a designation to whether each student satisfied (S) or did not satisfy (N) the community-based requirement.

For those students who satisfy the community-based course requirement, a formal transcript notation will appear under the class on the official transcript to more fully document the richness of the experience.

Internal Tracking and Reporting

Courses will be identified in such a way that allows for consistent tracking and reporting of enrollments in courses using the categories and attributes listed above.

Academic Leadership Council (Oct, 2005)*
          Notations to be reviewed in three years; amended by formal action in the interim
Academic Policies and Procedures Committee (December 2005)
Implemented at IUPUI Effective Spring 2006