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Informal Learning

Informal Learning

We know that not everyone who wants to teach imagines themselves in a traditional classroom.  They might work in museums and historic buildings, in environmental and outdoor organizations, in zoos and aquaria, and in other community-based educational agencies.

Washington College offers a variety of opportunities for students who want to be informal educators, from traditional courses to place-based field work, summer internships, and opportunities to study and research abroad.

Students who are interested in learning more about these opportunities should contact Dr. Sara Clarke-Vivier at or Prof. Erin Counihan at

Course opportunities

Courses in the Department of Education provide the opportunity for students to think about the theory and practice of informal education and related concepts.  With classmates who plan to teach in schools, students will study the foundations of teaching and learning, best practices for design and assessment, and how to engage a diversity of learners.

Interested students should consider courses such as

  • EDU 252 Educational Psychology
  • EDU 318 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
  • EDU 394 SpTp Designing and Measuring Learning Experiences

The Department of Education also offers unique, experience-based one- or two-credit classes that allow students to observe professionals in the field, participate in informal education experiences, and begin to apply theory to practice.

  • EDU ENV 194 (10) SpTp Environmental Field Experience
  • EDU 194 (11) SpTp Museum Education Field Experience
  • EDU 215 Clinical Field Experience (International)

On and around campus

Because of our location, Washington College students are able to experience a wide range of informal learning environments, and consider what each has to offer to their understanding of what it means to teach and learn in places other than school. We have access to large-scale museum, field, and community learning experiences at nationally regarded locations in Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and other regional cities. Kent County itself is also rich with environment, history, and arts organizations that have provided and will continue to provide opportunities to see how small organizations undertake the work of educating the public.  Our Department has a strong and growing relationship with Sumner Hall, the only existing African American GAR building in the nation offering regular programming.

Interested students can also consider the Explore America internship program through the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience.  It matches outstanding Washington College students with summer internships at some of the nation’s leading cultural institutions – and pays those students a stipend for their work. 

Field trips

The Department of Education regularly creates opportunities to visit informal learning spaces across the mid-Atlantic region.  Previous trips have included the International Spy Museum, the Newseum, the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Aquarium.  

Behind the scenes with zoo educatorsBehind the scenes with zoo educators