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Purdue University’s Transdisciplinary Studies in Technology learning environments (required courses for graduation) are observed for both research and evaluation purposes. This provides a high degree of transparency. Weekly operational meetings are held with faculty and staff during the entire year. Students are invited to some meetings when classes are in session. Additionally, faculty and staff workshops are held during the summer to work through operational items as an entire group.
Based on feedback from faculty, staff, and students, we continuously focus on competency description language including what each competency looks like at each developmental level; competency assessment strategies, methods, and instruments; curriculum design strategies that will manifest as learning modules that scaffold learning to guide the student toward demonstrating competencies; and will make minor architectural changes to Purdue’s required courses based on student and faculty reflection and feedback.
Feedback is gathered in several ways. Students are interviewed face-to-face individually and in focus groups at least twice each semester. Faculty are also interviewed, which has been useful for historical archiving purposes, but we have found weekly reflection meetings more useful for rapidly addressing student learning issues.
One example where feedback has turned into program adjustments is in Purdue’s required courses for graduation. Students are required to create and curate a portfolio as a non-course degree requirement. From 2014-2016 we required two learning experiences, one called Seminar (2 credit-hours) and the other called Design Lab (3 credit-hours). These courses focus on a real-world problem; Design Lab from a technical perspective and Seminar from a culture and societal lens. They also served to help students connect the dots between traditional course learning outcomes and Purdue’s competencies, and to create and curate their portfolios. During the 2015-2016 academic year, student and faculty feedback was used to re-architect the courses under Purdue’s control, combining the Seminar and Design Lab into a single 4 credit-hour learning experience and creating another course specifically for mentoring students in the creation and curation of their portfolio while also helping the student navigate competency assessment. This change is being implemented in the fall of 2016 and, thus far, results show improved connections between learning outcomes, competencies and improved artifacts for competency assessment.
In areas of recruiting and marketing, the Transdiciplinary Studies program features an individualized learning plan, where students are mentored by faculty and advisors to produce a plan that will help them become adaptive innovators of the future. These features along with competencies are marketed to those students who desire more flexibility in their learning than typically found in more traditional discipline-specific programs.