Hands On Academics

9 Jan

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

- Confucius

Research has shown that Confucius was on the right track. Students who participate in active, hands-on learning often retain three  and a half times more information then they do in a traditional lecture format. And not only is retention greater, but students also get the real-world experience that employers are always looking for.

At Merrimack, we believe that the deepest learning occurs when you’re fully immersed in the experience. Meet some Merrimack students who are doing just that by applying academic content to real-world issues.

JOHN, Class of 2014JohnP  – Major: Athletic Training

“I love sports and played high school football until I was sidelined with an injury. When it came to majors, I knew I wanted to help those with injuries return to the game.”

At Merrimack, John serves as an essential member of the Athletic Training team – spending time rehabbing football players in the brand-new Sports Medicine Complex, as well as on the sidelines of many sporting events. “Athletic Training majors are required to have 1,000 hours of experience – with 900 of those hours being completely hands-on.”

But the hands-on academics don’t begin and end at Merrimack. Last year, John traveled with a team of students to Haiti to help out with medical care. “It was an amazing trip. I met (and helped) so many incredible people. It was a life-changing opportunity.”

As for John’s future? He’s preparing to graduate in May and says, “I feel well-prepared by all the field work. And that helps as I get ready to start applying to jobs and start my career.”


KELLY, Class of 2015 - Major: Human Development


After working a steady babysitting job throughout high school, Kelly knew that she wanted to be in a career helping children learn and grow. Through her studies, she has been able to do just that – and gain hands-on experience through her work at local elementary schools.

Kelly’s coursework included a position at the Emily G. Wetherbee Elementary School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where,  each week, she taught science courses to elementary students. “The first day I walked into the classroom, I was inspired. Each week after that – I looked forward to creating my own lesson plans, and adopting their classroom as my own.”

Her practical knowledge gained from the classroom has made her better understand the curriculum and how her students adapted to it. “The students were excited to learn – and that was so encouraging for a first-time teacher. Plus, next year I will get to start over at a new school with new experiences.”



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