Christina Sax, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs
An MUIH graduate education includes three types of learning experiences. They combine to develop holistically prepared integrative health professionals:
- Curricular learning
- Co-curricular learning
- Extra-curricular learning
Curricular learning is the primary means of learning in an MUIH academic program. This occurs in courses, and it is the traditional type of learning that you think of when consider earning a degree. This involves acquiring, mastering, and applying knowledge and skills specific in a particular field.
Also important are two types of parallel learning experiences that occur outside of courses – co-curricular and extra-curricular learning. Both broaden learning and add value to the degree. These informal and optional learning experiences play a key role in supporting students’ professional, career, and personal development.
Co-curricular learning occurs through structured activities designed to complement and extend the formal curriculum. These activities align with the degree and are part of the overall program-specific learning experience. They support the formal learning that occurs in courses. At MUIH, co-curricular learning occurs through activities such as the research symposium, student journal and research clubs, health equity speaker series, integrative grand rounds, telehealth and healing presence mini-enhancement courses, professional and continuing education courses, career community roundtables, and guest speakers, webinars, and workshops focused on timely and practical topics in the field of integrative health and practice management.
Extra-curricular learning occurs through activities that provide the opportunity to cultivate personal knowledge and skills that support academic and career success. This learning goes beyond preparation for a particular occupation. It equips students with transferrable skills and strategies that allow them to be agile, resilient, and successful in a variety of occupations and settings. At MUIH, extra-curricular learning occurs through activities designed to build resilience and wellness, an understanding of your learning style and personality type, strategies for focused work, time-management and study skills, and understanding and respect of the cultures and unique perspectives of others.
What are the benefits of co-curricular learning?
Co-curricular activities give students the opportunity to extend what they learn in their degree program. They are designed to reinforce and enhance course learning and work. They also support students’ achievement of their Program Learning Outcomes and the University Learning Outcomes for all students. Such experiences exist beyond, and in interaction with, formal learning in courses.
- Co-curricular learning is experiential. Students can hone the knowledge and skills gained in courses. They can put ideas into practice by engaging in practical settings with other integrative health professionals. Students have the flexibility to explore and try new ways of thinking, solving problems, and answering questions in a low-stakes and ungraded environment. They can generate new knowledge. These learning activities offer the opportunity to gain experience beyond reading, watching videos, and listening to others.
- Co-curricular learning creates personalization. Students can become a co-creator of their holistic curriculum and can personalize their learning experience. Because co-curricular learning activities are informal and optional, students can choose the experiences that match their interests and goals. Students can explore emerging areas of interest and subspecialities in their field that are not covered in their courses. Students can directly express their own values, goals, and interests, and connect them to their degree program.
- Co-curricular experiences are collegial. Students, faculty, and alumni are invited to participate in MUIH’s co-curricular learning activities. They engage as peer colleagues in a professional learning community. Students bring their unique and prior experiences and their program learning into the educational exchange. This community of practice offers the opportunity to engage with integrative health professionals from multiple fields. This diversifies students’ perspectives and strengthens their ability to understand and work with a wide range of professionals after graduation.
- Co-curricular opportunities are transformative. These learning experiences provide ever-expanding development opportunities. They broaden horizons and perspectives. Students can reflect on their inner talents and aspirations, such as their leadership qualities, creative skills, and comfort level with public speaking. They can discover an aspect of their field, a career path, and professional characteristics they did not know about before. These experiences help students sharpen skills and attributes that employers seek – critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills.
Why is co-curricular learning strategic for career advancement?
Engagement in co-curricular learning experiences can enhance employability and career success. These activities prepare students for their future in practical ways.
- Co-curricular experiences are future focused. They provide the opportunity to participate in authentic scenarios like those students will encounter after graduation. Students can build comfort and confidence in these situations while still in school. They can learn how to contribute and make the most of these situations in their career. Such scenarios include discussing patient or client cases with practitioners from other fields, debating the implications of peer-reviewed journal articles, sharing research findings through poster presentations, and questioning guest speakers from across the country about their care models.
- Co-curricular learning promotes a T-shaped education. Students gain depth and breadth. The formal curriculum (the vertical part of the T) develops a depth and a strong disciplinary core. Co-curricular learning experiences (the horizontal part of the T) develop breadth. A T-shaped degree provides deep knowledge, skills, and expertise in one area and a broad base of general supporting knowledge and skills. This foundation leads to an adaptable degree and professional. Graduates can apply and transfer what they have learned to different and changing settings and circumstances. Employers value these same attributes in a rapidly evolving workplace.
- Co-curricular engagement demonstrates professionalism. Your participation in optional co-curricular learning experiences signals to employers that you are committed to your ongoing professional and career development. It communicates that you are motivated and curious. It indicates that you take initiative and responsibility for your professional growth. Highlighting your participation articulates your personal brand and the distinctive value proposition you bring to an employer, collaborator, patient, or client.