Incorporating resilient pedagogy within experiential learning

By Karen Elliott, OSU College of Health

Resilient Teaching Voices Series

As we move into Spring term, it is always filled with so many possibilities and excitement for commencement at the end of the term and of course, the excitement of warmer weather as well! As an internship coordinator, it is one of my busiest terms, with supervising internships in the Spring, and working with students to secure internships in the Summer. 

During the pandemic, experiential learning, especially internships, had to adapt quickly and this continues to be the case. Each term is different and presents interesting challenges that call for new approaches to experiential learning, and as a result, experiential learning courses are a natural fit with resilient pedagogy. “Resilient pedagogies respond to disruptions so that success is achieved because the disruptions are regarded as productive” (Thurston, 2021). The concept of resilient teaching is about adapting and being flexible through disruptions to improve teaching techniques. This is true with internships. Before the pandemic, internships were in person at an internship site, and that could be in Corvallis, within the state of Oregon, out of state or international, and the idea of a remote internship was not heard of! As a result of the pandemic, there have been many successes with experiential learning that have allowed for the internship experience to be more productive and beneficial for instructors, students, and internship sites/community partners:

  • Offering remote or hybrid internships has allowed students to apply for internships that they would not normally be able to apply for. An example was during the pandemic. Most internships had to either pause or pivot to being remote. This was true for internships with government sites, including Senator Merkley’s office. Senator Merkley’s office was able to offer remote internships where students had direct interactions with other senators and the legislative process in Washington D.C. during Fall 2020, the perfect opportunity for a Health Management and Policy student in Oregon who was interested in health policy, now that is a success! 
  • The remote or hybrid internship format has increased equity, with flexibility around schedules and other commitments that both students and community organizations have.
  • Changing the internship format has allowed for creative uses with technology for students to be engaged with each other and with me as the instructor and learn about other’s experiences. Changing to be fully online opened a window for students to find ways to share their learning process during the internship in unique ways. Although the professional portfolio existed as a final assignment for many years, students really took it to a new level, with the freedom to showcase their internships visually, and through media, and to record their learning throughout the entire internship. This has elevated the internship experience to incorporate not just the final portfolio but all the details during the internship. This has also helped me to assess the internship experience as a whole for students, since “much of the learning that our students experience isn’t captured in a final paper or project” (Bruff, 2019).

As we continue to navigate other disruptions to experiential learning, resilient pedagogy provides tools to find those successes and challenges us as educators to view assignments, courses, communities in new ways that makes the learning even more significant.


Bruff, D. (2019). Thin Slices of Learning. Intentional tech: Principles to guide the use of educational technology in college teaching (pp. 55-57). West Virginia University Press.

Thurston, T. N., Lundstrom, K., & González, C. (Eds.) (2021). Resilient pedagogy: Practical teaching strategies to overcome distance, disruption, and distraction. (pg. 39) Utah State University.

About the author: Karen Elliott, Ph.D., M.S., CHES  is a Senior Instructor II and the Undergraduate Public Health Internship Coordinator in the College of Health.  She teaches experiential learning courses and she is passionate about preparing students for the workforce.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of guest posts about resilience and teaching strategies by members of the Spring ’24 Resilient Teaching Faculty Learning Community facilitated by the Center for Teaching and Learning. The opinions expressed in guest posts are solely those of the authors.

Top image generated with Microsoft Copilot

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