First published: October 31, 2017
URL to original article: https://polytechnic.purdue.edu/newsroom/transformed-learning-environment-leads-record-polytechnic-enrollment
Why this is a favorite: After an eight-year decline in enrollment, the college started an upswing in 2013 which continued even through the 2015 name change (from College of Technology to Purdue Polytechnic) — something which wasn’t universally popular. Emphasis on — and our office’s marketing of — our unique learning environment might have been the deciding factor in our newfound popularity. When the record enrollment numbers arrived which more than fully reversed the long decline, we wanted to spread the word. This article was a group project, tweaked and approved by leadership … but I was its primary author and am proud of the work. It became a press release which was picked up by a healthy number of media. I also helped craft the text in the downloadable fact sheet which accompanied the piece.
The Purdue Polytechnic Institute has set an all-time record for total enrollment at its West Lafayette location, surpassing the total set in 2006.
The new record of 4,377 represents the complete reversal of an earlier eight-year decline. Prior to the Purdue Moves initiative to transform the College of Technology into the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, total enrollment had decreased from 4,346 to 3,640 during the period of 2006–2013.
Over the last four years, a 63.7 percent increase in new beginner undergraduate students, a 37 percent increase in graduate students and higher retention rates resulted in the enrollment record. Overall enrollment grew by 20.3 percent, outpacing Purdue University’s 7.2 percent overall increase.
When factoring in the college’s nine other locations around Indiana, which also increased enrollment from last year, total enrollment has reached 5,505.
Purdue Moves challenged the college to transform its learning environment to better serve the evolving needs of students and society. How students learn, what they know and aspire to be, and where they get their information have all changed in the 21st century. The global economy and the needs of companies and communities have also informed the college’s transformation, said Gary Bertoline, dean of Purdue Polytechnic.
“We recognized the need to create a learning environment which is better aligned for the digital age,” Bertoline said. “Employers overwhelmingly say they want graduates who are ready to contribute, who are well-rounded team players and who are able to adapt in an ever-changing world. Our faculty are making great strides in transforming the undergraduate learning experience to better prepare graduates for lifelong success.”
The 10 components of the college’s transformed learning experience are designed to produce graduates who have deep technical knowledge, applied skills, and experiences in their chosen discipline as well as problem solving, critical thinking, innovation, communication, and leadership skills sought by employers and communities.
Learn-by-doing lab sections or lab-like in-class applied learning activities are now included in 91 percent of undergraduate courses, for example. Theory-based applied learning is a proven approach that drives students to better understand and retain concepts.
Additionally, all Polytechnic plans of study include two-semester senior capstone projects as well as required internships or similar workforce-like activities arranged through industry partnerships. All plans of study also include required learning activities that feature globalization and cultural immersion.
The college’s School of Construction Management Technology has served as a transformation leader, creating a new plan of study and curriculum for fall 2017 that integrates learning activities from multiple courses using a single major project as a unifying focal point.
“We are breaking down the ‘silo effect’ of individual three-credit-hour course containers,” said Jessica Cabral, assistant professor of construction management technology and special assistant to the dean for curriculum transformation. “It’s a bold approach.”
The college remains committed to continuing its transformation, Bertoline said.
“We have added more project-based learning, incorporated more student-centered active learning, and started to integrate humanities into all Polytechnic majors,” he said. “Our college has more work to do, but we are well on the way to reaching our goals.”
- Enrollment growth & transformative education in Purdue Polytechnic, 2017 Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Transforming technology: Creating the Purdue Polytechnic Institute (Purdue Moves)
- Answering the Call: Purdue Polytechnic’s 10 elements of transformation
About the Purdue Polytechnic Institute
The Purdue Polytechnic Institute is one of 10 academic colleges at Purdue University, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines: aviation, computing, construction management, engineering technology, technology leadership, and technology education. In addition to Purdue University’s main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue Polytechnic offers select degree programs in nine Indiana communities.