Experiential Education Office of the Provost


The Office of Experiential Education newsletter features a monthly spotlight on an ExEd program or student participant. 

ExEd Spotlight: From EPICS to Space: A Freshman Engineer's ExEd Journey at Purdue University

Erin Blasingame, a first year Engineering student, has big dreams of working in the space industry. Erin's passion for space was instilled in her from a young age, and she has pursued opportunities to build and create in the field of engineering ever since. Erin attended a STEM Academy in high school, where she took engineering classes and began to dabble in computer science. She is interested in both the hardware and software aspects of engineering, and plans to minor in computer information technology. 

Erin got a fast start with experiential education at Purdue through the EPICS program, a service-learning program with a focus on design. Her team, the Play team, partners with an organization called Kids Play Gym in Bloomington, Indiana, which works with children with autism. They use play-based learning therapy to help these children with social, motor, and life skills. Erin's team works on different design projects to support the organization and the therapy they offer. 

“What pulled me to the EPICS and AERO programs at Purdue University is that they are about engineering for the community, which has an impact on people's lives. So far, I have found the experience interesting as it gives me a taste of real engineering in a corporate workspace and introduced me to some long-term career goals,” she said. 

One of Erin's projects was the water table team, which aimed to find an alternative to using bleach to keep the water clean in the sensory water table. The team decided to use UV light sanitation, which kills all the bacteria in the water table without the need for harsh chemicals. The team tested and installed UV lights in each water tank, making the water clean and safe for the children to use. Another project Erin worked on was the Backyard team, which designed a stage for theatre and imaginary play for the children. She presented her work on all the experiential opportunities she did with EPICS at Purdue’s Engagement and Service-Learning Summit, showcasing her ability to find creative solutions to real-world problems and won 1st place. Erin's experience with the EPICS program has helped her develop her leadership and management skills, particularly in project management and communication. Erin's goal is to work in the space industry and make an impact on society through her work. She plans to apply for the astronaut program and hopes to continue learning and growing through experiential education opportunities at Purdue. 

Erin believes that experiential education is crucial for students because it allows them to apply theories learned in the classroom to real-world problems. She said, “My advice to students seeking ExEd opportunities is to not be afraid of diving in and to try to minimize their fears. Students should conduct thorough research, investigate sample code, and seek help from TAs and advisors. Students should not feel intimidated by senior team members because they are there to provide support. A mix of students from different backgrounds and experiences can offer unique perspectives that can benefit the team. Students should remember that the project is more than just a grade.”

ExEd Spotlight: Building the Bridge Between Business and Engineering: The Integrated Business & Engineering Program

The Integrated Business & Engineering (IBE) program offered by Purdue University is an unparalleled educational opportunity for students who wish to acquire a unique skill set, combining the core principles of business and engineering. The program is a partnership between the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business and the College of Engineering. IBE students are part of a small cohort and learning community, sharing core courses together, and even have the option to reside within the same community. Upon graduation, they will receive an accredited AACSB business degree, with a significant focus on engineering coursework. The integration of disciplines provides students with the ability to work at the intersection of business and technology, equipped with an engineering skill set and the aptitude to perceive the business implications across the organization.

The IBE program places significant emphasis on experiential education opportunities that span over 5 semesters. These opportunities include the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) and Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) programs. In EPICS, IBE students design, build, and deliver solutions for local and global community partners, such as language translation apps, teaching aids, and water treatment solutions. In contrast, the VIP program sees IBE students joining university research labs to work on projects such as promoting emerging technologies with a view to commercialization. These hands-on programs are integrated into the curriculum and prepare students for future internships and employment.

In addition to university-wide experiential education opportunities such as VIP and EPICS, the IBE program also includes program-specific experiential education components. Business simulations, hackathons, and consulting projects for industry partners have all been integrated into the IBE curriculum.

Dr. Dilip Chhajed, Associate Dean of Online Programs & Strategic Innovations at the Daniels School of Business, has expressed his excitement about the unique nature of the IBE program. Chhajed said, “Purdue's IBE program stands out as a transformative education initiative, redefining higher education through continuous improvement, and breaking down traditional barriers between colleges and schools within the university.” He acknowledges that “while there are a few other programs that focus on the intersection of business and engineering, Purdue stands out in its ability to create this intersection.”

The IBE curriculum is designed to prepare students for roles that interact with engineering teams, such as project/product manager, integrated project team (IPT) lead, data analyst, or as a consultant. The program's graduates are also well-suited for technical sales and supply chain roles, which require significant coordination between different units within an organization. With a data-driven decision-making approach, IBE graduates are capable of leading in changing environments and driving innovation within their organizations.

“Our goal is to develop business leaders who can effectively navigate diverse fields, especially at the intersection of technology and business. In today's multidisciplinary industries, there is a growing need for individuals who can act as intermediaries and bridge builders between technical engineers and business organizations. That's why we are prioritizing this degree and aiming to capture that market," stated Ryan P. Case, Program Director of the Integrated Business & Engineering program.

With a rare combination of business and engineering focuses, coupled with a variety of experiential education components woven throughout, Purdue’s IBE program will graduate students with a unique set of skills that bridge the gap between engineering and business, prepared to lead top organizations and create new industries of the future.

ExEd Spotlight: Construction Engineering and Management at Purdue University: Driving Excellence in the Construction Industry

Purdue University's Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) program is a leading force in preparing students for careers in the construction industry. This program is part of the College of Engineering and provides a comprehensive education that combines engineering and management principles to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. CEM’s commitment to experiential education is one factor that sets it apart, resulting in guaranteed full-time placement for its graduates. 

Rabita Rajkarnikar, the Senior Internship Program Manager of the CEM program, emphasizes the significance of experiential education. She states, "We have meticulously integrated experiential education into our curriculum to augment the students' learning journey. We have 3 compulsory internships, which are part of the CEM Plan of Study, and are the cornerstone of our program. Experiential education requirements ensure our students gain invaluable real-life experiences, bridging the gap between classroom and industry, and setting them up for success in their chosen field." 

The curriculum of the Construction Engineering and Management program is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in engineering and management principles, as well as a thorough understanding of the construction process. Students learn about construction materials and methods, cost estimating, project management, and construction law and contracts. They also receive leadership, communication, and teamwork training, which are essential skills for success in the construction industry. In addition to foundational coursework, students learn skills through hands-on projects in engineering professional development classes, which gives them practical knowledge applicable to the field. 

Construction engineering is a male majority industry. However, over the years, there has been a growing effort to encourage women to enter this field and to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment. Purdue CEM is taking this seriously as they currently have a 28% female enrollment rate and are working to increase that number. To realize this vision of gender equity, Purdue's CEM is working to inculcate the importance of diversity and inclusiveness through various engagement opportunities and activities highlighting the Women in Construction and holistic mentorship designed to encourage younger women to enter the construction industry.  

CEM’s commitment to learning and career preparation through experiential education involves partnerships with 200+ industry partners like the Walsh Group, GCI, Pankow, Barton Malow, Kiewit, Mortenson, Related and many more. They provide valuable learning opportunities and a real-world perspective on the skills and knowledge needed to succeed within the field. The industry partners understand that students joining the CEM program begin their experiential education journey as freshmen with limited industry-specific skills, but they are committed to training and mentoring those students as they gain experience. This experience is not just limited to the work environment, but extends to the classroom, where these companies come in and supplement the learning experience. They provide a hands-on approach to education, bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world application. 

“Our senior capstone projects provide students with an opportunity to collaborate with community partners; one such partnership was with the Native American settlements in Louisiana, who were interested in looking to build a cultural hub for their community after hurricane Ida. Also, international service projects led by CEM in Ecuador have had a positive impact on the development of our students,” says Brandon Fulk, The Walsh Group Director of Internships at Purdue University’s CEM. “We have partnered with Global Engineering Program and EPICS to make international projects possible. Although the number of students who have interned internationally recently was limited due to COVID-19, the school encourages students to study abroad to broaden their horizons.” 

The Construction Engineering and Management program at Purdue University is also highly regarded by employers. With a 100% job placement rate before graduation, CEM students are in high demand, with many going on to successful careers in construction management, project management, and engineering. They are sought after by leading companies and organizations, including construction firms, engineering consulting firms, and government agencies. CEM’s intentional approach to experiential education is a key contributor to their students’ success beyond graduation. 

ExEd Spotlight: Engaged Students

November 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

The following series represents four interviews with current and past students about their experiences in experiential education. They shared with us about what ExEd means to them and how these experiences have prepared them for their future careers. 

Read more about:

Story Credit: Ailin Fei, graduate assistant in the Roger C. Stewart Leadership and Professional Development Department 

Name: Connor Wilson
Major: Agribusiness Management
Year: Senior, December ‘22 

Connor Wilson is a Senior in Agribusiness Management. Within University Residences, he has had multiple opportunities within each position he’s held. With his current position, there are many opportunities to take what he’s learning in the classroom, and what he’s learning as an employee, and bridge the two together. He is putting principles into practice and developing skills that will transfer directly into his professional work experience. 

What is ExEd to you? Learning in the classroom is important, but it's taking your knowledge from the classroom and taking knowledge that you learn from a job or a club organization on campus, combining the two together and creating that cohesion – that is experiential education. Because you're going to learn a little bit from each, but when you put the two together, you're going to learn even more. Understanding how you can bring those two together and move forward with that - in your career, your job on campus, your club organization, your student life, whatever it is - nothing can beat it. 

Can you give us an overview of your experience so far? I have actually been working with my associate director on understanding where I'm at now, what my future holds, and where I've been the last two years with her. It's been some of the best experiences of my life. I've gotten to experience a lot more things than I ever thought I would, and I gotten to be a part of some very cool opportunities with housing. Being able to take advantage of these opportunities just by being a student here at Purdue and what originally started as taking a job to make some extra cash on the side has been absolutely amazing. It has made my experience as a Boilermaker these last three and a half years absolutely amazing. 

What skills did you acquire during your experience? I’ve gained tons of skills. I even took skills that I already had, and I've just completely excelled even more at, for example, training operations. I also learned that there is going to be a lot of nos,  and there's going to be a lot of yeses. It's just kind of the way of life. At least in my current job, one day is never the same with different guests walking in. Being able to see that now definitely helps prepare me for whatever the future may hold. 

What benefits did you gain from this experience? I think it has been absolutely amazing. It has been one of the largest highlights of my time here at Purdue, because I've actually been able to put everything that I want to do with my future into work as a student. I truly found where I wanted to be as a student, as well as a professional moving forward. 

Where do you see yourself in the next few years? I'm wanting to go into recruitment/retention, employee training, talent acquisition, that whole area. It is tremendous being able to put that practice into play before I graduated. I couldn't have asked for a better way to work towards my future goals and my future plans. Just being able to have a supervisor, or any full-time staff who are dedicated to making sure that yes - you're in the classroom, but that you're learning outside of the classroom where you can put your principles from class into work is something that I never expected, but one of my absolute favorite things about Purdue University. 

What advice would you give Purdue students who may be thinking about participating in ExEd? Do it. Absolutely right off the bat, do it. It has been one of the best experiences of my life here at Purdue, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. Moving forward, I'm taking advantage of it. Not every university is going to offer this. Not every job in the future is going to have opportunities like this, so it's right there. It’s an arm’s length away; grab it and take advantage of all of it, because it's truly magical. 

Name: Marie-Claire Norins
Major: Hospitality and Tourism Management, minor in event and meeting management, concentration in sales and marketing 
ear: Senior, May 2023

Marie-Claire Norins is a senior in Hospitality and Tourism Management, with a minor in event and meeting management, and a concentration in sales and marketing. Knowing she wanted to get involved as much as possible on campus, she joined the Student Concert Committee (SCC). She served as a general member her first year, and then moved into the presidency the following year. She now serves as a student advisor for the SCC. 

What is ExEd to you? ExEd is all about hands-on learning and really having the feeling of doing the work the same way you would be doing it in a career position - not just in a classroom. It is applying all those things that you may have learned in a textbook or in lectures to the real world. It’s also getting the chance to learn if that's something you actually want to do. Experiential learning really helps you realize, have I just been saying that I want to do this, and is it just fine because all I've been doing about it is reading, or is it actually something I want to do? For me, ExEd puts to the test the things that you've been learning out of a textbook, or out of a lecture, in the real world. 

Can you give us an overview of your experience so far? Looking back and reflecting, there are so many things that I would do differently. I think a lot of the skills that took me basically my full two years to develop, I wish I could go back now and start my presidency term having those skills and not feeling like I need to gain confidence of how I'm going to be leader. I was scared to try to do things differently. I didn't know how things were done the past. I feel like I have a much better grasp now on how you don't need to do things the way that they have been done, just because that's the way they've been done. I feel those are the biggest aspects looking back that they're definitely not regrets, just learning experiences, and I'm really grateful. Ultimately, just lead the way you want to led and not being afraid to do that. 

What skills did you acquire during your experience? I learned more about how to be a more understanding leader and leading with patience and grace. Those are two words that I don’t normally use to describe myself. I learned how to check in with myself and check in with others and how to be more of an understanding and compassionate leader. Also, a skill that I was able to develop is communication. I know that sounds very basic, but if I'm not following through, I can’t expect others to get anything done. The organizational communication aspect that I thought I had, [SCC] really helped me develop those skills and put them into practice. 

What benefits have you gained during this experience? Being able to work with my advisor and to work with the whole convocations department, who houses SCC, was super beneficial. Growing my confidence, in terms of my leadership capabilities, and then learning about my career path along the way. And then also just meeting people with similar interests. You kind of start to create a bond, and you’re networking in college, which is an important thing to do, even with other students, because who knows what happens once you graduate and where your paths will realign. 

How did this experience benefit you in your career goals? I came into college fully knowing that I wanted to do as many things to learn about events as possible. I wanted to make sure that I was really well-rounded in the events sphere, because hospitality focuses a lot on the hotel, food and beverage industry, and that's not exactly what I wanted to go into. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I've learned a ton. It has given me such an outlook and perspective into the world of performing arts and events and working with artists, and agents in a whole sphere that I had never really known about. It was always a learning experience. All of those little experiences combined really helped me learn more about the events world. It was helpful knowing that was what I want to do in the first place and then just seeking out and kind of thinking about how I was going to develop those skills. SCC kind of landed in my lap perfectly with that. 

What advice would you give Purdue students who may be thinking about participating in ExEd? Do it, do it, do it. It's not always the easiest - you have to do more than you would if you were just in class. But also, you chose to come to college; you're paying for this experience. I wanted to leave this experience feeling more fulfilled and more knowledgeable than I did going in. I wanted to learn more about myself. I personally don't do that well in a lecture. I need the hands-on learning and to grow as a leader. I think it's very difficult to do any of those things without putting yourself into the deep end and really putting those skills to the test.  

Name: Grace Cameron
Major: Social studies education with minors in global studies and Spanish
Title: Recruitment Specialist-Honors College, May ‘21 

Grace Cameron is a Recruitment Specialist at the Honors College. During her time as an undergraduate at Purdue, she worked with University Residences at the Windsor Hall front desk, where she stayed for three years. She also had the opportunity to work summer conferences during her final summer as a student. After graduation, she stayed at Purdue that summer to serve as a staffing assistant and a summer conference coordinator where she assisted with the training of new student workers and the organization of conferences. 

What is ExEd to you? ExEd is education through experiences. So, until you're actually doing the experience piece, it's not experiential education. You can sit in the classroom and learn everything in the world, but until you put it into practice, you don't really know the applications. As a teacher, I saw this all the time, because I could learn how I'm going to manage a classroom or manage a group of people, but until I actually tried to implement it – that’s where I saw that there's a complication over here or there's a complication over there. 

Can you give us an overview of your experience so far? Looking back on it now, I would not do anything differently. I think it was the wonderful connections that I made that actually helped me land my position that I work in now at Purdue. It’s how I met a lot of my friends. It's truly a learning experience. They [your supervisors and managers] recognize that you’re a student and that you don't know everything. They're here to help you become the young professional you want to become. They can do that by offering all these different opportunities for professional development. It was a really cool way to learn the ropes as a young professional. 

What skills did you acquire during your experience? Self-advocacy is number one and it’s a big one and leadership skills. Once I became the leader of the students behind the desk, I then had to work on how do I train them? How do I discipline people? How do I talk to superiors and all that stuff? Time management is a huge one too. You're working and having a job on campus, and that alone teaches you time management, but then when you are managing other people, plus work plus school, that's a whole different story. 

What benefits have you gained during this experience? You're never going to have a student work position on campus that you love all the time, but it's preparing you for the world afterwards. I don't think that I would have ever left the job, because it was just such a good experience, and you stay for the people. And I loved the people at Purdue. That's why I came back to work for Purdue. It was a fantastic position to have. 

How did this experience benefit you in your career goals? I wanted to be the student leader behind the desk, because I really liked teaching and training; I like working with students. I like being the person to help them make the connections and answer those, “why” questions. That's what I did in the classroom and so, when I saw an opportunity to move up as a student worker, I was like, this is perfect, I can teach and train and practice those skills that I want to eventually use in my everyday career. 

What advice would you give Purdue students who may be thinking about participating in ExEd? I think you have to really look at the type of person you are. In college, you are here for school first, and if you need to focus on school, you focus on school. If you are looking for an extra challenge and an extra way to apply some of the knowledge that you're learning, and you think it's going to benefit your future career, 100% participate in experiential education. It is going to build so many skills that you will end up needing. But like I said, school has to come first, and so you need to do what's best for you. 

Name: Bryanna Ruiz
Major: Computer Information Technology
Year: Senior, May ‘23 

Bryanna Ruiz is a Senior in Computer Information Technology. She has been working in University Residences as a student office staff person for three years and most recently as a student office coordinator. We spent some time interviewing her about her perspective of experiential education and how it has benefited her.  

What is ExEd to you? When I think of education for colleges, I think of the entire campus in general as experiential education; it doesn't even have to be just classes. I would think about for the residence halls too. For example, they have learning communities, and a lot of people actually don't know about those. I would say, all of campus serves this educational purpose, not just the academic side. 

Can you give us an overview of your experience so far? I feel like it has really made me grow more. It really opened up my eyes on just how big everything is, and the different opportunities there are, and in general, not to be scared to go for any opportunities. It also made me reflect a lot more about myself on what I really want to do. Getting closer to my senior year, I had to think more about what I wanted to do, what was going to be best for me. I have been thinking about how I have grown and improved. 

What skills did you acquire during your experience? I actually used to struggle communicating with people and making eye contact. I was a lot more shy and reserved but working at the desk has helped me a lot. Through the years, I got more involved with a lot of leadership positions that helped me understand what kind of leadership skills I have already, what I could improve on and, what it means to be a leader. I understand how to manage my time better.  

I also learned that discipline of staff and employees can be a very sensitive topic, especially when you are friends before being in the coordinator position. Now suddenly you are in a coordinator position, it's a little hard for some people to cross those boundaries with their friends. That was something that I learned really in depth. 

How did this experience benefit you in your career goals? When it comes to educational experiences, it's very good to be connected with other people. For example, if other people at the desk hear about certain opportunities, such as for financial aid, we try to help each other out with things like that. It has been very helpful, because I also was able to learn more about financial aid and other different educational opportunities. 

Where do you see yourself in the next few years? I am debating on customer service or if I wanted to be a bit more behind the scenes. I do feel like I would want to do a bit more customer service. I know a few people would be a little anxious about working in customer service, but I would not mind at all. Experiential education helped me recognize if you were able to manage your time with all of this before, you can definitely do it later when you have a full-time job and have other responsibilities as well. 

What advice would you give Purdue students who may be thinking about participating in ExEd? My biggest thing that I like to tell people is always try, instead of being scared and doubting it and thinking about all the ‘what-ifs’ because there is a million ‘what-ifs’ and it will take many years for you to get all the answers to all the ‘what-ifs’ but if you just put yourself out there, you could see how you can learn from it to then grow from it. Sometimes you'll get a little bit of rejection in some areas and that doesn't mean you're not qualified for it - you may just need to learn a little bit more before you can try it again. 

ExEd Spotlight: Digital Media Production Center

October 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

When we think of ExEd spaces, our first thoughts might be of labs, classrooms, internship locations, simulation spaces, and so much more. Housed in the basement of Stewart Center, you will find one of these important ExEd spaces. The Brian Lamb Digital Media Production Center (DMPC) provides a hands-on learning environment that includes a TV studio, podcasting room, and editing suites. Each of the courses offered through the DMPC include an experiential education component. “If there’s a microphone in front of the student, that’s us. We’re where the students’ voice hits a recorder.” said Toni DeAztlan Smith, assistant professor of practice and director of the Digital Media Production Center in the Brian Lamb School of Communication.

Through their courses, students get the valuable opportunity to create digital media products that address a wide range of real-world challenges and needs. Students are limited only by their imagination of what stories they might tell through video and other media.  Each course offered through the DMPC gives students the opportunity to create a different type of product. For example, students are creating podcasts with themes related to their passions, areas of expertise, comedy, and storytelling in the podcasting class. They are providing the play-by-play and camera operation for the Lafayette Aviators’ home games in the sports broadcasting class. Students work with businesses and organizations to produce how-to videos in the client-based video production course.

Students also create live and studio broadcasts like the ones broadcasting professionals create. For example, one of the program’s upcoming live broadcasts is an election watch party to be held on Tuesday, November 8 from 6-8 p.m., which is a partnership between the DMPC, the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship and Engagement, the political science and history departments, and Pi Sigma Alpha. In conjunction with the watch party, students in the Covering the Midterm Election course will be producing a live broadcast of the election returns. To help them prepare for their live broadcast, the students have been producing a weekly show called “Watching Washington”, which has been running on YouTube and the Purdue Channel. Course instructor Elizabeth Evans is excited for the students to have the opportunity to participate in this live broadcast “It’ll be a lot of fun, but I really hope the students come away with not only a learning experience and knowing what to do in this type of experience, but also I hope they really enjoy being privy to communicating such an important night in America when our democracy is at work.” To watch the students’ live broadcast of election night, tune in on the Purdue Channel online or watch locally on Comcast channel 5. The public is also welcome to attend the watch party on November 8, which will be held on the ground floor of Stewart Center in the new student activities space.

Reflection and peer review provide an excellent opportunity for learning within the DMPC COM courses. DeAztlan Smith has structured her courses to include opportunities for reflection and review on the students’ own work and also their classmates’ work. To facilitate this review, DeAztlan Smith creates discussion boards in Brightspace for students to upload their work and their classmates post objective critiques of the projects. As students learn more through the course, their critique style changes, and it provides a great assessment of what students are learning from the course. DeAztlan Smith said, “at the beginning of the semester, the students’ responses are about things we specifically talked about in class, but as the class progresses and they learn more techniques, the critiques develop as well.” Additionally, DeAztlan Smith produces an end of semester showcase of the students’ work that also includes video clips of students’ reflections on their learning throughout their courses, which airs on the Purdue Channel.

Finally, the DMPC provides students with experiences that are preparing them for careers in communication. Sports broadcasting student Lichao Shen said “after taking COM 491 Sports Broadcasting, I joined Big Ten Plus’ broadcast team and Fast Track News. The skills from the Aviators really helped me to be actively involved in the sports broadcasting and also filming sports clip for sports news package. I’m definitely looking to make sports broadcasting or sports news broadcasting my future career after taking COM 491.” Mass media communications senior Daniella Molina had similar feelings about her experience in the DMPC courses, “Taking a client-based video production course like 337 prepared me for a future job. Being able to interact with different organizations and execute their ideas is such an important experience.”

ExEd Spotlight: Preparing Future Teachers Through Service-Learning

September 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

When strategizing about how to best prepare future teachers for the realities of their chosen profession, College of Education leaders looked to experiential education to assist with meeting the needs of teacher preparation in a post-pandemic world. Through the Innovation Initiative (I2), which officially launched in the fall of 2021, the College of Education developed 6 hallmarks of teacher education. Hallmarks include new pathways to licensure, expanded field experiences, longer student teaching experiences, virtual educator licenses, intentional mentoring, and community-based learning experiences.

One of the hallmarks, community-based learning experiences, includes a required one credit hour course, EDCI 35000: Community Issues and Applications for Educators. The goal of the course is to cultivate authentic relationships between Purdue’s teacher education students and the communities they plan to serve. Through EDCI 35000, students volunteer for 10 hours throughout the course of the semester. Students work with a variety of community organizations, including Bauer Family Resources, Civic Theater of Lafayette, Junior Achievement, public libraries, the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy, and many more.

College of Education leaders believe that learning about the community one teaches in is important to overall success in the classroom. Stephanie Oudghiri, Clinical Assistant Professor of Curriculum Studies, and lead faculty for EDCI 35000, said “I was really excited about this community-based course, because from my own teaching background, it was so important as I moved to different states during my career that I came to know and learn from the community in which I was teaching before I ever stepped foot into the classroom.”

EDCI 35000 is also essential to assisting students with making the connection between students’ lives inside and outside the classroom. It is important for future teachers to connect with children and families in different settings, because it helps them to understand family dynamics and how those dynamics impact their students. Abby Laufman, Community and Mentoring Engagement Coordinator in the College of Education, said “Sometimes my students think parents don’t want to be involved in their kid’s school, but it’s actually that the parents work 2nd or 3rd shift at a factory. Families are all working hard and doing the best they can, and this class is a good way for our students to reflect on assumptions they might have about the students in their classrooms.” The experience also assists education students to see their students’ whole selves. Education student Lauren Eriksen said “This class was honestly like none other, because I got to see what kids were like outside of the classroom environment. I think sometimes we forget that students have such different lives and different ways of expressing themselves outside of school. Getting involved in the community is very useful to connect with students and help them feel more comfortable in class.”

There have been quite a few logistics to consider when designing the experience. Laufman has worked to create partnerships with more than a dozen organizations, ensuring they each understand the parameters and expectations of the course, and also the realities of Purdue students’ schedules and access to transportation. Education students have multiple field experiences that need to be worked into their schedules, which impacts their availability for their service hours. Additionally, there are some transportation limitations, particularly for first-year students, that have to be considered. Laufman said that they do try to keep all of these things in mind when assisting students in their organization search. For example, when it comes to transportation, Laufman stated, “The good thing is that most of our community organizations are on bus routes. A lot of our community agencies also have their own buses and transportation that the students might be able to utilize.”

As in all experiential education programs, reflection is a key component to the EDCI 35000 experience. The process of reflection helps students develop a deeper understanding of what they are learning. As part of the course assignments, students complete guided reflection journals to reflect on their experiences in the community and how those experiences connect to their future profession. The reflection prompts include questions for the students to answer, allowing them to not only reflect on their experience, but build their overall reflection skills. Oudghiri stated “If I can get one thing across to the students, it is that to be a reflective practitioner is so important to their future growth as a teacher.”

ExEd Spotlight: FNR Summer Practicum

August 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

After two summers of no travel or limited travel, Purdue students were ready to spend their summer participating in experiential education! A long-established Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Summer Practicum tradition was no exception to this. FNR students have been retreating to the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for more than 80 summers, gaining knowledge and practical field experience that no traditional classroom setting can match. A few days after their sophomore year ends, aquatic sciences, forestry, and wildlife students head to Iron River, Michigan to spend 5 weeks living together and learning about land measurement and surveying; inventory of forest, wildlife, aquatic resources; and integrated resource management.

According to Laura Fehling, natural resources lab coordinator and collections curator, who also serves as the summer practicum director, students can participate in a variety of hands-on activities that are directly connected to their majors. Fehling said “Aquatic sciences students spend a lot of time sampling fish and invertebrates out on the water. The forestry students spend their time in the woods doing field measurements and learning about forest management practices. And the wildlife students capture, identify, and track all sorts of wildlife.” Fehling went on to say, “All students get a really immersive experience with doing field work and data collection; it’s totally hands on.”

Participating in Summer Practicum is an impactful experience for students as they think about their future careers. Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Habitat Management, Elizabeth Flaherty went on to say “Summer practicum is life- and career-changing for students. The opportunity to be immersed in fieldwork experiences with classmates who share similar career interests provides students with a strong career confirmation experience. It’s a valuable experience for some students to learn that while they are interested in a career in natural resources, a job with more lab or office work is preferable. They also become a cohesive cohort for their remaining courses, which helps support their success as they move through the more challenging upper division courses with colleagues and friends.”

Past practicum students serve as TAs for the program, which adds an additional layer of experiential education to the program. TA Mikaela Agresta said “I enjoyed Practicum so much I decided I wanted to come back to help the class below me enjoy their time in the UP of Michigan. This experience has pushed me to entertain the idea of attending graduate school and pursuing my education further.”

Students have great memories of the program as well. Senior wildlife major Gretchen Weliever, a TA for the program and past practicum student said “Camp is the highlight of wildlife, aquatics, and forestry majors’ school experience. The people who go to camp with you are the people you see in the remainder of your college classes, and even your professional career. I couldn't have imagined a better opportunity to make friends and gain hands on experience for my future goals.”

ExEd Spotlight: HTM 331 Selling and Sales

April 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

Marriott Hall was buzzing with activity on April 7 as the HTM 331 Selling and Sales class was set up to sell their newly designed products. These products are part of an experiential education class project led by Stephen Leitch, clinical assistant professor and assistant director of the Center for Hospitality and Retail Industries Business Analytics (CHRIBA). This project encompasses the entire semester and provides students with real life experience in sales. Students partner with a local business to create a product. The local business fronts the expenses to create the product, and the students are responsible for selling the agreed upon number of products. The stakes are high for the students—missing their sales goal means the students do not pass the class. Leitch works with students to determine product options. When describing the project, he said “We want them to figure out what their passion is in terms of a product. Do you like food? Do you like travel? Do you like coffee? We want them to find something they enjoy.”

Students use their sales skills in a variety of ways, from contacting businesses, to negotiating a product and a price, and then convincing the business to support the product. During the semester, the students develop the product and all the things that go into that such as product design, determining margins, promotional materials, and licensing if they design a Purdue licensed product.

As is typical in experiential education, reflection is a big component of HTM 331. Students reflect throughout the semester as they develop their products. They reflect on whether they have met the objectives and goals they set with the business, and if they have not met the goal, where they need to adjust their promotion and tactics. During the last week of class, they give a presentation to the business owner and the rest of the class about how the project went. Leitch said, “it raises the bar a little bit, because they’re not just presenting to me; they’re presenting to the business owner. So they are quite nervous about that. They have to say if they hit their goal or not, and why they didn’t hit the goal.”

Each year, products vary based on students’ interests. This year, students created Purdue hats, specialty burgers, candles, and coffee drinks. One group sold coffee cup sleeves as $5 drink vouchers. The purchaser could write a note to a health care worker on the sleeve, and those sleeves/vouchers will be used to treat a local nurse to a free cup of coffee during Nurses Week.

The long-term impacts of this project are numerous. Many of the owners or managers of the participating businesses are graduates of the HTM program and are very welcoming to the HTM students. Leitch said “the businesses get a lot out of it. They get a lot of exposure. They get staff out of it. We have students go work for these companies, because they have done this project. They’re good mentors for the students.” 

ExEd Spotlight: Boilers go to DC

March 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

Boilers Go to DC (BGDC) is a course-based experiential education program offered by the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement (CCSE) and the Brian Lamb School of Communication. Students spend two weeks living and studying in Washington DC with classroom time split between The Washington Center where the students will be housed, and the C-SPAN studios. This study-away course is an immersive experience in the historic interconnections of political communication, government, news media, non-profits and other influential organizations with daily field trips to important sites around the District. During the course, students have the opportunity to meet and interact with Washington decision makers and communicators, and Purdue Alumni, including lead course instructor, C-SPAN Founder Brian Lamb.

The program has been offered for 7 years, and like most study-away programs had to get creative with the type of experience offered during 2021. Instead of traveling to DC in 2021, the course was flipped to a virtual format and rebranded as Exploring Career Paths in Washington, DC. Students heard from and engaged with subject experts in a wide variety of fields. According to Andrea Langrish, Managing Director of the CCSE and BGDC co-instructor, the students loved the program, so much so that she and Brian Lamb are considering offering the campus-based version of the program as its own course in the future.

Langrish is excited to take students to DC once again this May and has added an exciting major update to the program. With the help of the Purdue Alumni of Washington DC organization, Langrish has added a brand-new mentorship component to this year’s BGDC course. Students will be matched with DC-based Purdue Alumni to learn more about career paths in a variety of fields and will learn about living and working in DC. Students and their mentors will meet at least 3 times prior to traveling to DC and will meet in person during the course at an alumni event to be held at the National Press Club located just steps from the White House. According to Langrish, BGDC is the first and only study away program to partner with Purdue alumni for a mentorship program as a part of the course experience. “The design of the course with this new alumni mentorship program reflects the CCSE’s commitment to giving our Boilermakers a meaningful learning experience and allows our alumni to give back to the next group of students.”

Speaking of reflection, it is an important component to the BGDC experience. Langrish wants students to create something that is authentic. Students engage in reflection by creating a multimedia project about their experience. Examples of these projects include reflection videos, podcasts, and journals.  Additionally, according the Langrish, “the requirement is that they participate in every single conversation with every single person…they have to have a question ready every time we meet with someone. So let’s say they’re talking to a senator; every student has to ask that senator a question. Then that night, as part of their reflection, they’ll send us a question they asked and provide what the senator said and their own perspective on what was said. What are they thinking, what are they learning from the meetings.”

BGDC has had a significant impact on participating students. Alumna Makenna Fitzgerald said, "My DC Maymester with CCSE is the number one experience that impacted my time at Purdue. The connections, education and overall growth I received during those two weeks helped shape the professional I am today. Before going, I was a freshman that had recently switched into political science and communication with no idea what I was doing. The immersive experience Brian Lamb and Connie Doebele offered was hands down the best way to really dive into the world of politics for a newbie like me." CCSE Student Community Co-Founder Andie Slomka had this to say about her 2019 experience, “It was one of the most impactful experiences for me in college.”

ExEd Spotlight: HK444 Balance Rehabilitation in Older Adults

February 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

More than a decade ago, Shirley Rietdyk, professor of Health and Kinesiology, and Jeffrey Haddad, associate professor of Health and Kinesiology, saw a need in the community that they knew their students could solve. Rietdyk stated “Dr. Haddad and I were completing a balance intervention study where undergraduate students conducted balance training in the community. We found that the students’ enthusiasm and motivation were higher than we had observed with previous research projects. The students bonded with the older adult participants over the course of the training. Dr. Haddad and I wanted to maintain these positive outcomes from the balance intervention study, so we developed the course.”

The Balance Rehabilitation in Older Adults program (HK444) is a service-learning course where students learn interventions to increase balance and mobility and then put those skills to work with the residents at University Place. As part of their coursework, students design an exercise plan specific to each of their clients and then meet weekly with the client to practice the routines. HK444 is a part of the important work occurring in the Center on Aging and the Life Course (CALC). The Center’s mission is to promote aging-related research and education at Purdue University and connects well with the work occurring in the course. Rietdyk stated “The expected outcomes of the class include learning and experience for the students and improved balance for the older adults. But we also see the students and older adult participants work cooperatively in a way that encourages intergenerational understanding and bonding.”

Like many experiential education programs, the Balance program had to quickly pivot in March 2020. The program is now operating via telehealth which has resulted in some strong benefits. First, telehealth has allowed the program to be accessible to clients beyond University Place. Second, students have had to be creative in developing exercises for clients using household objects rather than exercise equipment available at University Place or other similar facilities. Third, students have had to improve the clarity of their instructions since they cannot directly show clients as they would do if they were in person.

Reflection is an important part of the program. Students reflect on their skills and their clients’ progress throughout the semester to ensure the goals for the client are met. Students speak highly of the program and how it prepares them for their future careers. A past HK444 student stated “I thought the course was incredibly beneficial, because it was the first course that allowed me the freedom to create an individualized exercise plan, as well as work one-on-one with participants, which no other course had provided the opportunity to do.” Ashwini Kulkarni, teaching assistant for HK444 stated "Most students apply for physical therapy, occupational therapy or DPT programs.  Students feel like they are way ahead of other DPT first year students. They have already done many of the things you would do in the first year of DPT school.”

ExEd Spotlight: Sabria Croom

January 2022 Newsletter Spotlight

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sabria Croom was unsure of all the career options available to her. Now a senior majoring in Accounting in the Krannert School of Management, the experiential education opportunities Croom had while attending Purdue has helped her to find her passion. She began her experiential education journey during her sophomore year when she started tutoring student athletes. As a former student athlete herself, she wanted to give back to other student athletes.  She was also involved with the BoilerMENTOR program, which then led her to get involved with the ACE Campus Food Pantry. She started as a volunteer with the pantry and went on to become the student director. In this leadership role, Croom stated she “makes sure other student directors are ok in their roles, getting information out to folks on campus, how we might be able to improve the pantry, and really, just do whatever is needed.” 

In additional to her co-curricular experiential education opportunities, Croom completed 3 internships. Her first internship, with AGB Investigative Services, allowed her to learn about different areas of the company and other career skills. “They would take us places on field trips to learn more about the other areas. They helped us with our LinkedIn pages and resumes.” she said. Croom returned to AGB for a second internship and this time worked solely in the finance department. Summer 2021, Croom completed a 3rd internship, this time with Deloitte, a major firm providing a broad array of financial and auditing services. At Deloitte, she was introduced to the auditing profession, which is what she has decided to pursue as her career.

Her experiential education opportunities have helped her to learn more about her field. “You’ll never stop learning. Even once you finish college, there’s always going to be something more you’re going to learn.” she said. When asked about her future plans, she indicated they are shifting now. “I had wanted to become a CFO of a hospital, but now I’m going into auditing, and I didn’t even know that was an option when I was in high school.” She added “I want to give back to my community in Chicago. I didn’t learn anything about financials in high school. No one really knew how to save or invest. Maybe I can create a class for Chicago Public Schools, so I can let other students know what’s out there!” Croom is glad she chose to get involved on campus and participate in experiential education, “I’m glad I did it. No one knows what to expect their college experience to be. Everything I’ve accomplished and how I’ve grown, sometimes I have to sit back and say ‘you did that!’ When I reflect on it, I have done a lot of things during my time at Purdue."