Experiential learning in planning

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Experiential learning in planning


Research overview

In 2011, the University of the Sunshine Coast in partnership with La Trobe University, Edith Cowan University and Griffith University, the University of Tasmania and the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) won an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) ‘Innovation and Development’ grant for research over the next two years into experiential learning in planning education. *

The project responds to the identified need from the National Inquiry into Planning Education and Employment (PIA 2004) to increase planner professionalism through matching skill gaps with training, bringing planning educators and practitioners closer together, and increasing collaboration between planning schools.

Experiential learning is defined in this project as a ‘purposeful process of engaged, active learning in which the student constructs knowledge, skills or values by means of direct experiences with authentic, real world contexts’ (Kassem 2007).

The project is based on a proposed evaluation framework that differentiates between:

  1. How to assess the students’ learning
  2. How to assess whether experiential learning is meeting the objectives of planning programs and the Planning Institute of Australia’s graduate outcomes

The main deliverable from the project will be the production of an easily accessible package of professional development material about experiential learning activities and assessment techniques for improving teaching and learning outcomes with planning education.

The Experiential Learning in Planning toolkit website for the research project was launched in December 2013.


The project uses an action research approach to engage students, academics and planning practitioners in evaluating and refining a framework for experiential learning in the partner institutions. It identifies and develops learning tasks and uses quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the effectiveness of key assessment parameters related to process and outcomes of the proposed framework.


Project leaders are Dr Claudia Baldwin and Associate Professor Johanna Rosier from the Regional and Urban Planning Program at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Project partners are Associate Professor Trevor Budge from La Trobe University, Associate Professor Eddo Coiacetto from Griffith University, Dr Andrew Harwood from University of Tasmania, Tim Perkins from Edith Cowan University and a representative from the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA). The Project Manager is Dr Christine Slade from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

More information

The project has issued three newsletters to keep you informed about the progress of the project. The first one was published in June 2012 and the second in March 2013. Our third issue is available now.

All newsletters can be downloaded from the USC Research Bank.

The Experiential Learning Project Summary ** is available at the USC Research Bank (PDF 1.15MB).

A number of presentations have been given by the project team including ANZAPS 2012 in Bendigo and PIA National Congress in March 2013. All university project partners are leading a workshop in late September at the ANZAPS 2013 conference held at the University of Canberra. The aim of the workshop is to inform planning educators about the deliverables of the project, particularly the online toolkit of resources, and the project’s accreditation recommendations that will be forwarded to the PIA.

Conference papers and presentations relating to the Experiential Learning in Planning Research project are available at the USC Research Bank.

If you would like any further information about the project please email cslade@usc.edu.au.

* Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

** For PDF documents you must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded from the Adobe Download page.

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