Experiential Learning ExL


Experiential Learning (ExL) promotes and instructs applied learning courses for students and assists employers to meet their workforce development needs. Each year, Purdue University Calumet students participate in experiential learning courses including Internships, Practicums, Research and Service Learning.

All Purdue University Calumet students will need two (2) EXL units to fulfill graduation requirements.

photo of biology students by a stream straining water, making notations


To enhance the academic study and student competency development, promote regional economic vitality and build on ongoing partnerships with employers and community partners.


  1. To ensure that all students have access to and include experiential learning courses in their academic careers.
  2. To apply course content and gain relevant academic, personal and professional knowledge, skills and attitudes that they will need to become work-ready and civically engaged members of the community upon graduation.
  3. To build partnerships with employers and community partners that produce strong learning environments for students while meeting workforce development needs.

photo of student intern working with a biologist in a lab


ExL has been included into your overall graduation requirements to allow you the opportunity to learn about what is happening outside your academic world.  How you handle this opportunity will be up to you and what you hope to learn and use outside of your university life.  Some of you may choose to do the Service Learning option whereby you may become involved in many different activities whereas others may choose to do a Practicum which works with the health professions, Research , Field Studies. or Environmental Stewardship. The options and opportunities are out there for you and your faculty advisor to find.

Whatever you choose, remember that you are presenting yourself to a future employer.  Many times employers use these opportunities to assess a possible employee for future employment.


  • Help students apply their course work in activities outside of the university environment
  • Foster coordination between Purdue University Calumet Biology Faculty and the business community in the Calumet region
  • Enhance region-wide higher education institutional focus on environmental and economic issues in Calumet
  • Produce a work-force that is knowledgeable and civically minded


Photo of a student intern working on cell cultures in a lab












How many ExL units do I need?

You will need two EXL units in order to fulfill your graduation requirements.  One EXL unit is a course recognized by the university as being EXL.  Your EXL units or courses will typically occur over a two semester period.  Semesters do not need to be consecutive.  You will need to discuss with you faculty advisor how many credits a unit is worth.

What do I need to do to get started?

You will need to find a faculty advisor who will work with you on securing an ExL.  You faculty advisor may know of an organization seeking students to assist in a task that will fulfill the experiential learning requirements.  You may also know of opportunities that you can discuss with your advisor. Once you and your advisor have agreed upon what you need to do, make sure you have discussed this with the organization that you would like to work with as well.

Steps to Begin the Process

  1. Each student will prepare and submit a proposal to his/her prospective faculty instructor
  2. The proposal will include the name of the individual or organization providing the opportunity, the name of the Exl supervisor, the goals and objectives of the ExL and a list of anticipated activities.
  3. The faculty advisor will either approve the proposed ExL opportunity or request some modifications.  If the ExL has prerequisites then make sure that these have been completed.  Completion of prerequisites is required before your proposal is approved.
  4. Upon approval, the student, student’s faculty instructor, and the ExL supervisor will communicate to finalize the goals and objectives of the ExL opportunity.

When I have completed my ExL experience what do I do?

Each student will write a final report in which they record all their accomplishments and learning.  The student will link what they have seen/done during the ExL activity to information learned in the classroom.   The report will be submitted to the faculty instructor at the end of the semester.

What ExL courses are available for me to take in Biology?1,2,3

1 Please make sure you speak with your faculty advisor before signing up for a EXL Experience.

2. There are other EXL classes at Purdue University Calumet that you take.  Please visit ExL Students and Parents and the university on-line course catalog.

3. The internship option requires you to seek internships off campus.  This can be done through the internet, speaking to other people about available opportunities as well as talking with your faculty advisor.


As a faculty advisor, what will be my responsibilities?

As a faculty advisor, you will need to talk to your advisee about experiential learning and the opportunities that are available. You will need to assist them with working with potential outside/off campus employers, supervise their efforts, work with the off campus supervisors, review the proposals, approve student proposals and well as review the student’s off campus efforts and final reflective paper.

Follow these steps to guide you and your student through the ExL process!

  1.  Work with the student and ExL supervisor prior to the initiation of the ExL experience to finalize the goals, objectives, and procedures of ExL.
  2.  Approve student’s proposal for ExL.  (make sure all prerequisites have been completed by the student prior to beginning the ExL).
  3. Work with student ExL supervisor (off campus) to monitor the student’s experiences.  Maintain a line of communication through email and or phone between you and the ExL supervisor.
  4.   Review and approve student’s final reflective piece on their experiences in ExL.