Lighting up the sky: Experiential learning at a NCAA championship event
Keywords:higher education, student learning, sport management, capstone project, internship, professional networking, service learning, Experiential Learning Theory, Social Learning Theory
Experiential learning is a critical component of sport management student learning and one that can transform the learning process. Not only are students able to apply classroom-acquired knowledge into practical situations, they are also provided the opportunity to build professional networks. Those networks could then assist students upon graduation when they enter a highly competitive job market. This study chronicles the capstone experiences of a group of undergraduate sport management students who were invited to work at a NCAA Championship event, the 2021 Big Sky Conference’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Using Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) as a framework for understanding, we aim to show how the experience produced optimal learning outcomes for a group of undergraduate sport management students. Specifically, we aim to show how our students benefitted by the contextual application of existing knowledge, through the acquisition of new knowledge, by experimenting with new knowledge, and from a unique opportunity for professional networking.