Helping Students Develop Global Understanding Through Situated Learning: A Religion Course Example


  • Susan Bond Religious Studies
  • Susan Campbell Learning Support Services



global education, teaching online, student writing, experiential learning, collaborative learning, situated learning


The first online course produced and taught in Mason's Department of Religious Studies, "The Human Religious Experience," applies the situated learning approach where students "co-construct knowledge" through a 'social process' (Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, 1991) to meet the Mason Core "global understanding" requirement.

The course covers the beliefs, practices, festivals, and history of the major world religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. Several instructional strategies (e.g., online discussions, field trips) are used to allow students to experience other cultures and their religious practices.

Student interaction is a large component of the course with discussion prompts carefully crafted around real-life situations to engage students in high-order thinking. Some of the discussions evolve around videos where guests representing different religions (selected by the faculty member) talk about religion and culture from their perspectives.

Field trips to places of worship, interviewing congregants or religious leaders, and exchanging and discussing reports of these experiences are other examples of applications of situated learning.

By the end of the course, students are able to articulate their own worldview (religious or otherwise) based on their own culture and backgrounds and their experiences in the course.






4:15pm-5:30pm POSTER SESSION (Group A- 4:15-4:45pm)