Learning through Engagement

Experiential Learning program gains national attention

Colleges and universities outside northwest Indiana are taking notice of the successful Experiential Learning (ExL) component of a Purdue Calumet education.

ExL—the integration of traditional and applied learning in a real world environment as it relates to a student’s chosen field—is mandatory for all Purdue Calumet baccalaureate-seeking students. Two ExL courses are required for graduation.

The seven types of ExL opportunities available to our students are: Cooperative Education, Undergraduate Research, Service Learning, Practicum, Internship, Design Projects and Cultural Immersion.

Purdue Calumet as a national leader

Seen as a frontrunner in this type of educational endeavor, Purdue Calumet welcomed to campus last year two visiting schools—Johnson & Wales University of Providence, RI and the University of Toledo (Oh) in March and November, respectively.

Purdue Calumet ExL manager Janice Golub met Maureen Dumas of Johnson & Wales last year at the National Scholastic Experiential Education Conference in Dallas, Tex.

D’Naie Jacobs of the University of Toledo was given a recommendation to contact Purdue, which resulted in her November trip to campus.

Full agenda during two-day visit

While on campus, Johnson & Wales guests attended presentations by various Purdue Calumet departments. Topics covered included curriculum development, community partnership development, faculty partnerships and others.

Golub and Beth Pellicciotti, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs, were instrumental in developing the agenda for their visit. The visitors’ mission was to learn more about Purdue Calumet’s approach to ExL and expand on their own.

“Our students can participate in a program called ‘directed work’, under a faculty’s guidance,” Dumas said. She added that she was very impressed by Purdue Calumet’s commitment to ExL. We were grateful to learn from one of the leaders in this area.”

University of Toledo’s visit was a day trip

Due to time constraints, representatives from the University of Toledo were able to devote only one day in November to gather information about the Purdue Calumet ExL program, although they were offered the same program as the one for Johnson & Wales University.

D’Naie Jacobs and Sammy Spann of University of Toledo
D’Naie Jacobs and Sammy Spann of University of Toledo

But information garnered in the short amount of time was nevertheless well-delivered and of great interest, according to visitors D’Naie Jacobs, director of institutional strategic initiatives at the university, and Sammy Spann, assistant provost, Center for International Studies and Programs at the university.

Jacobs commented about her university’s current effort to make ExL a defining aspect of their education programs. “The most important aspect I took away from our visit (to Purdue Calumet) was how engaged the faculty is with the students,” she said. “We couldn’t have met more experienced professionals.”

Benefits of ExL are impressive and many

Proven to be very successful in the many areas it covers, the ExL program at Purdue Calumet is given high marks and accolades, according to those involved.

“On some campuses ‘experiential learning’ is just an internship,” Golub said. ”But here (at Purdue Calumet) it is embedded in our curriculum.”