Experiential learning: our signature curriculum

As I prepare to leave the Chancellor’s Office, I am pleased and proud that experiential learning is emerging as Purdue Calumet’s signature curriculum.

I am convinced that putting ideas into practice drives successful learning, and that, subsequently, successful learning translates into persistence and degree attainment.

Three years ago, when we committed to integrating traditional learning with the learning that takes place in an applied, real world environment, we recognized that for this concept to be successful, faculty, students and community partners would be expected to share proven standards of good practice.

Our students have to be willing and able to bridge classroom learning with a new learning environment of the world around them.  Our faculty members have been challenged to develop or revamp courses to refocus on applied learning. Our community partners provide the environment and adopt academic objectives established by our faculty to maximize the quality of learning our students derive.

Adherence to the National Society for Experiential Education’s eight standards — intention, preparedness and planning, authenticity, reflection, orientation and training, monitoring and continuous improvement, assessment and evaluation, and acknowledgment — packages this entire concept.

Our students are bringing fresh perspectives and ideas to their community partners. Construction management & engineering technology student teams do actual condition inspections of Hammond dwelling unit exteriors. Communication students perform a detailed communication audit for employers. Our management students have competed against peers across the world in an on-line start-up, business competition. An industrial engineering technology student applied Lean Six Sigma principles at St. Margaret Mercy Hospital’s Alverno Clinical Laboratories to redesign the labs’ inventory system.

Within the evolution of effective, 21st century higher education, experiential education will go a long way in defining Purdue Calumet and preparing our students to be successful alumni.


Howard Cohen