Friday, October 9th, 2009 - 9:57 am

Going off campus to enhance NW Indiana

The Next Level

The Next Level provides a brief update of initiatives in which Purdue University Calumet is engaged in response to its strategic plan for attaining the next level of excellence.

Purdue Calumet, through its Center for Science and Technology Education, has assumed responsibility for curriculum, faculty and staff development of Hammond’s pending charter school. That school, the Hammond Academy for Science and Technology, is scheduled to open next fall for some 320 sixth through ninth grade students.

Additionally, this fall, a team of Purdue Calumet professors is providing interaction and guidance to Crown Point High School faculty members who are teaching three, 3-credit hour Purdue Calumet courses—Mathematics 159 (pre-calculus), Communication 114 (speech) and Chemistry 115 (general chemistry)—to 315 high school students. The students can earn dual credit applicable at high school and university levels by satisfactorily completing the courses.

Such off-campus commitments to advancing pre-higher education are in response to Goal 2 of Purdue Calumet’s strategic plan: Prepare an Educated Northwest Indiana Workforce & Citizenry.

Reforming education

Unlike traditional schools, the Hammond Academy for Science and Technology will be a public institution that approaches learning from a project-based perspective. Students will learn subject matter through application and problem-solving in a team-based environment that also will emphasize classroom technology. Additionally, the academy has adopted the “Comer Process,” a developmentally supportive model that advances learning success through the committed and collaborative efforts of parents, teachers, and community and business leaders.

Scheduled for construction in downtown Hammond and open to Indiana residents, the academy will feature other cutting edge approaches to education. Heading Purdue Calumet’s role of providing curriculum and faculty/staff development is Dean of the School of Education Robert Rivers, who also directs the university’s Center for Science & Technology Education.

Rivers’ approach in building and shaping curricula has been to integrate various disciplines of academic subject matter within specific learning projects. For example, a project to compare and contrast the designs of a 13th century English Medieval castle with that of a 21st century American skyscraper might require application of mathematics, science, history, British literature and English composition.

Purdue Calumet’s leadership involvement also will mean plenty of opportunities for teacher education students to develop and apply their skills, knowledge and teaching methods.

Dual credit = mutual benefits

As for the dual credit courses the Crown Point teachers are instructing, their students not only are gaining opportunities to jump start their higher education, but they also are developing insight and skills necessary to succeed on a college campus and beyond.

By taking actual Purdue Calumet courses—same university syllabi and requirements—the high school students are building a foundation of higher education course work that will earn Purdue credits or, if desired, credits at other Indiana colleges and universities. Not bad for $15 a credit hour, the fee the students are paying, thanks to a $50,000 Indiana Dept. of Education grant supporting the program.

With a team of Purdue Calumet faculty, coordinated by Professor of Communication Lisa Goodnight, interacting with and guiding the high school teachers in the process of teaching university courses, both faculty groups are on the same page of success expectations and development.

In the end, whether at a soon-to-be constructed charter school in downtown Hammond or at well-established Crown Point High School, it’s all good if the goal of preparing an educated Northwest Indiana workforce and citizenry is realized.

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