Learning Strategy: Immersion


Immersion is stepping beyond one's comfort zone into the unfamiliar to acquire and learn new perspectives. Similarly to being "immersed" in water, through immersion, students have willingness and mindset to engage with the unknown. Immersion is being, learning, and co-creating with a community for personal transformation and solidarity with intentional mindfulness (John Loggins). Immersion does not have to occur away from campus or a remote location, location is secondary, only meant to enhance the experience. Immersion can occur anywhere students are invited into the unfamiliar and compelled to seek positive social change through joining with others in reciprocal relationship. Immersion as a learning strategy is an example of Kolb's model of Experiential Learning in which students: participate in a concrete experience (are immersed in the unfamiliar), observe and reflect (intentionally make meaning of the experience), form abstract concepts (are able to take the perspective of others and question structure and systems), and test new situations (move forward with continued involvement or social action).

Learning strategies this can be confused with

  • Field experience: the location is essential to the learning whereas the location (while often contributes or enhances) is not primary/not essential for immersion.
  • Hands On Learning: the doing is the essential component to the learning, personal transformation, as required in immersion, does not have to take place.
  • Gathering: the essential component to gathering is the social interaction, unlike immersion there is no requirement to enter into the unknown for personal transformation.

Learning strategies this works well with

  • Reflection: an essential component to immersion is reflection to make meaning of and identify personal transformation from the experience.
  • Storytelling: during immersion, students often listen to someone, e.g., a community member shares their personal narrative. Students may or may not then craft and share their own stories in the context of "joining" with others.
  • Passive Discovery: students happen upon stimuli and passively take in information in an unfamiliar environment during immersion.
  • Guest Speaker: a common element of immersion is to have "experts" with different perspectives and lived experiences share with students.

Resources to learn more about this strategy

MICAH Summer Fellowship. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://micahfellows.org/#about

Examples at USD

  • University of San Diego, St. Mary's University Micah Fellowship Program
  • Mulvaney Center Immersion Trips
  • University Ministry Immersion Trips
  • Course-Based Community Engagement Experiences
  • Mulvaney Center Youth Engagement Initiative
  • Mulvaney Center CASA's Co-Curricular Programs
  • UFMC Spring Immersion
  • Residential Life RA Immersion

Sample Activity

Course-Based Community Engagement for Faith that does Justice

Step 1:
Provide context, background, connection to Faith that Does Justice. Discuss community, identities, social issues, curricular learning.

Step 2:
Attend Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish's Faith that Does Justice event. Encourages mindfulness of the experience: how did you get there, what did it smell like, who was there, what did they say, how is their lived-experience different than your own, what resources are available, what does/doesn't the community have, who did you connect with?

Step 3:
Structure initial reflection time for students to share after the experience. Prompt objective, refletive, and interpretative questions centered around the idea of immersion: entering into the unknown and joining for personal transformation.

Step 4:
Circle back to reflection towards the end of course learning to make meaningful of all Faith that does Justice Immersion experience. Connect to curricular themes and desired outcomes as well as create decisive action, e.g., plans to get further engaged in a particular topic, continued involvement in the community, explore a vocation track, etc.


Experiential Learning (Kolb). (2017, February 04). Retrieved June 02, 2017, from https://www.learning-theories.com/experiential-learning-kolb.html

Rev. 8/29/17

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