The benefits of embedding experiential learning in the education of planners

Document Type

Journal Article



Place of Publication

United Kingdom


School of Business and Law




Originally published as: Rosier, J., Slade, C., Perkins, T., Baldwin, C., Coiacetto, E., Budge, T., & Harwood, A. (2016). The benefits of embedding experiential learning in the education of planners. Planning Practice & Research, 31(5), 486-499. Available here.


In a future of complexity, uncertainty and fragmented governance we envision planning graduates who will be better prepared for the real world of planning as a result of an experiential learning (EL) approach in undergraduate tertiary education. In this paper, we present the findings of an Australian research project in which planning educators developed and tested a range of experiential planning principles based on sound pedagogical theory. Embedding EL principles and activities within the planning curriculum provides a structured programme of engagement between theory and practice over the four years of an undergraduate Australian planning programme, including opportunities for work-integrated learning. Students gain experience in negotiated decision-making involving a wide range of interactions with planning practitioners. Students become more adaptable—cognizant of mechanisms influencing change, and recognize the value of lifelong learning founded on critical reflection. We propose that a more systematic approach to integrating experiential learning in tertiary planning education culminating in ‘work integrated learning’ would provide a vehicle for further partnerships with responsive local practitioners and communities. Finally, this paper also argues that applying experiential learning does not compromise the quality of planning education based on greater academic rigour. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.