Experiential Learning Frequently Asked Questions

Biology majors have a 1-4 credit experiential learning requirement that allows them to design their own project or experience related to biology, use their biology knowledge and expertise outside the classroom, explore possible career options and make professional connections. If you are a biology minor, you do not have this requirement, however you are welcome to use one of the experiential learning courses and experiences toward the completion of your minor, upon the recommendation of your biology minor advisor. The prerequisites for taking Bio385 (see #3 below) may be adjusted for you depending on your previous course work.

One course will satisfy this requirement. The courses currently offered are Bio 491, 492, 493 and 494: Independent Research in Biological Science, and Bio385: Experiential Inquiry in Biology (1-4 credits). Independent Research courses are completed with a Biology department faculty researcher in their lab at Quinnipiac University. For all other experiences, including research at Quinnipiac or at another location, students will submit an application for Bio385.

You may complete your experiential learning requirement at any time after you have completed the prerequisites and/or requirements for your experience. To enroll in the Bio385: Experiential Inquiry in Biology course, you must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and have completed one group: Bio150 and Bio151 or Bio101/Bio101L and Bio102/Bio102L, as well as Bio298. To enroll in Bio491-494: Independent Research in Biological Science you must meet the requirements of the faculty member’s research laboratory.

There are very important considerations for deciding when to complete this requirement, once you have completed the prerequisites. Ideally, your experience and/or project should be a means to explore and apply biology in a new way. This could help you decide on and prepare for a future career path or highlight a special interest that is not evident from course work. You should also consider when you have the time to make a real commitment to your project/experience and to your site mentor, which will make the experience more rewarding.

Independent research (Bio 491-494) must be completed during the fall, spring or summer semesters, and students may take a total of 8 credits during their time at Quinnipiac. However, Experiential Inquiry in Biology (Bio385) may be completed any time the course is offered, which is generally every fall, spring and summer, as long as there is sufficient enrollment.

For Bio491-494: Independent Research in Biological Science, the form is due soon after pre-registration for the fall or spring semesters. For Bio385: Experiential Inquiry in Biology, the Project Application and Course Enrollment Form for the spring semester course is due by November 1; for the summer and fall courses the form is due by April 1.

Projects/experiences might include shadowing a professional, research off campus, summer research on campus (e.g. QUIP-RS), community-based service or research, internships, study abroad/away or travel abroad experiences, or creative, co-curricular or other works on or off campus. All projects/experiences must relate to the biological sciences and occur outside the classroom in a setting that reflects that of your mentor’s profession. Research projects that are solely literature/web-based, even if interdisciplinary, will not be approved without a significant component planned for a professional setting. For a look at the final projects (short, digital stories) of past Bio385 students, go to the Experiential Learning eportfolio here: https://quinnipiac.digication.com/experiential_learning_in_biology/Home/! (You will have to log in if you haven’t been to the eportfolio page before.)

Any professional who agrees to supervise your project or experience of the types listed above may serve as your mentor, as long as they are unrelated to you. By University policy, project sites/businesses/practices run by a family member are not acceptable even if your actual project mentor is unrelated. Make certain that your mentor understands the type of commitment you are asking of them; be sure to show them the Experiential Learning Project Agreement form. You will also need to work out the dates and expected hours for your experience in order to include this information on your project application.

The project mentor needs to provide training and supervision, guidance throughout the experience, and verify your progress, attendance and professionalism. There will not be a lot of paperwork for the mentor. Before the start of the course, you and your mentor will both need to sign an Experiential Learning Project Agreement form which lists these responsibilities. The mentor will also submit a one-page, numerical-based evaluation of your work at their site when you are midway through and again at the end of your project.

The experiential learning committee chaired by Dr. McGinnis will read applications, as well as provide advice on ideas for experiential learning projects during office hours, scheduled drop-in hours, and information sessions. Dr. McGinnis or another Biology faculty member will teach the Experiential Inquiry in Biology course.

Yes. The number of credits you may apply for depends on 1) the number of hours per week to which you and your mentor can commit (see below), and 2) the extent of your expected engagement. Bio385 applications for shadowing experiences will not be approved for more than 2 credits.

All courses that satisfy the experiential learning (biological component) requirement require three hours of engagement per week per course credit. A 2-credit, 3-credit or 4-credit course would thus require 6, 9 or 12 hours/week during the fall or spring semester, respectively. For projects/experiences occurring during a shorter time frame, for example over the summer, the hours of engagement per week would need to be higher in order to achieve the same type of experience. See below for an example of this calculation. You will work with the Academic Coordinator of Experiential Learning to determine the number of credits for your project/experience. Examples:
  • Students engaging in independent study or an experiential learning project/experience during a 14-week semester work for 40 hours for a 1 credit experience; 80 hours for a 2 credit experience, 120 hours for a 3 credit experience and 160 hours for a 4 credit experience. 

The next step is to talk to your project mentor again, and discuss their expectations and responsibilities for the project as well as yours. Let them know that they may contact the academic coordinator, Dr. McGinnis, at any time with questions.

You cannot register for Bio385, Bio491, 492, 493 or Bio494 on your own. You will be enrolled by the Registrar after your project has been approved and course credit determined.