A program designed to give Purdue Polytechnic Institute students a set of skills more meaningful to employers than traditional course work is only months from its official beginning. The Transdisciplinary Studies in Technology degree is competency-based, meaning it focuses more on demonstrating expertise and less on a rigid academic schedule. The program’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Jeff Evans believes it will create more adaptable graduates who are better prepared for a changing work environment. During an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Evans said the model could eventually be picked up by other departments.
The Transdisciplinary Studies in Technology program, which Purdue says is the first of its kind in the country, received final accreditation in March. Purdue President Mitch Daniels, who has championed competency-based practices since arriving at the university, said "this degree creates a study plan around the student rather than an academic schedule. Students take work at their own pace through the program and, in the end, come away with a proven skill set that is meaningful to employers in today’s business world."
When classes begin in the fall, it will be a culmination of three years of work toward the program. It was first drawn up in 2013 and a pilot was launched in 2014. It received the go-ahead from the Indiana Commission for Higher Learning and the Purdue Board of Trustees last year.
The competency-based approach generally involves nontraditional students, but the new program is geared for everyone. Evans says the model essentially focuses on "what they can do," as opposed to relying purely on tests and grades. Students will work off of individualized study plans and be set up with faculty mentors to work with them along the way.