ACE Experiential Learning Institute (FELI)



The ACE Experiential Learning Institute (FELI) is five-day professional development experience designed for community college faculty, staff, and administrators.  The FELI is an experiential workshop involving more than fifty exercises and activities. These activities include but are not limited to large group discussion, small group sharing and presentations, movement activities, role-playing and reflection. ACE structures the activities to create a community of learners, and asks that all attendees be prepared to participate fully as active learners. We use many different pedagogical techniques to allow for learning and growth in unexpected ways, as well as, to keep participants fully engaged throughout the day. We ask that participants attend each day in full as each exercise builds on the previous one and rapport is built within the group as the days unfold. Each FELI group is capped at 25 participants to ensure time for each participant to be heard.

The FELI workshop challenges participants in many ways:

  • You will be asked to closely examine reality versus your perceptions in the areas of working styles, listening abilities and communications techniques.
  • You will experience the difference between outside-in learning and inside-out learning.
  • You will be asked to practice authentic communication and understand the value of self-awareness and self-disclosure as vehicles for the transformation of education.

A majority of participants report that they experience significant renewal and inspiration upon completion of a FELI.

The FELI can be offered as a stand-alone professional development activity or as a part of the process of bringing an ACE program to a college.

The FELI is the first step for faculty interested in teaching ACE classes.

This workshop simulates the transformative learning incorporated into the ACE Bridge Semester program for students.


Quotes from FELI Graduates

The realization occurred to me this week that when students arrive on campus, they want to feel something just as much as they want to learn concepts and theories that will ultimately open up the world to them; they want to be encouraged, to be inspired. In order to meet that need as an instructor and/or counselor, they must be given opportunities upfront, and often throughout their college experience, so that they can be heard and seen and felt, and by extension to be understood as more than an assessment score, a student ID number or an unfortunate social problem. To be honest, prior to FELI I always believed that higher education could provide students with a lot — critical thinking skills; job training; opportunities for leveling the playing field with an education; financial aid — but deep down inside I believed that college couldn’t give students heart. Some students have it, others don’t, I thought; he or she just isn’t ready to learn this quarter and should come back to school when they’re ready to work hard and make tough choices and locate all the things educators talk about in meetings: self-efficacy; self-advocacy; delayed gratification; and passion. I can honestly say that I’m embarassed by that false belief; FELI has shown me that what students care most about is heart: whether or not they open it depends on the college culture’s ability to recognize what a beating heart sounds and feels like. It requires a deeper kind of listening that must permeate throughout the campus. -Tom

“I think often of a sort of door opening during the FELI with insights into how we learn, how we relate to each other and how we relate to ourselves. So many activities we did were at a new level of engagement, thinking and working with others, and it made me look at students and learning differently, as well as how group work can be most effective and fun (i.e. using a puzzle or art or drama to convey an idea). It also brought up questions about how we hide or expose ourselves, and what helps us trust each other. I think I am more self-reflective and aware of how I learn and how I interact with people.”        -MPR Report 2011


FELI Graduate Guidebook

FELI graduates who are community college faculty will receive a Guidebook to support integration of the FELI experience into non-ACE courses.


Curriculum Themes

  • Successful Students
  • Student Bonding and Community Building
  • Productive Conversations between Classmates
  • Becoming Aware of Perceptions versus Judgments
  • Recognizing Student Strengths




FELI Outcomes and Evaluations

MPR Associates, Inc. is conducting a formal study:

  • To learn how community college faculty and administrators who participate in FELI perceive the Institute, and what they report as effects on their dispositions and instructional practices;
  • To learn whether reported changes in faculty and administrators’ attitudes, behaviors, and instructional practices affect student outcomes such as course completion.

In general, the results show that participants value their experience in the FELI highly, and report personal transformational effects similar to those experienced by community college students who complete the ACE Foundation Course. FELI participants indicate that participation has positive effects on their teaching, improves their communication strategies, and alters their beliefs about teaching.



The FELI is five days in length and is held at least twice annually, usually in January and again during the summer months. See the Upcoming Events page for upcoming FELIs.