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Hewlett-Packard Funds Purdue Work to Develop New Teaching Model

By Purdue ­niversity News

September 14, 2009



Purdue University has received a Hewlett-Packard grant to develop and test a new teaching approach designed to improve the academic success of underrepresented minority students in engineering programs. The grant will fund Purdue's new Reaching Excellence in Academic Achievement (REACH) program, which will help students learn in a cooperative and collaborative environment, says Purdue professor Jan Allebach.

A major element of REACH is the use of group-based learning and modularized coursework to assist and mentor students. The cohort approach focuses on sophomores and juniors by encouraging collaborative learning and mentoring through small groups. REACH students take fewer classes, but the classes they take are more focused and concentrated. "Many studies have shown that group-based learning improves acquisition and retention of information, higher-level thinking skills, interpersonal and communication skills, and self confidence," Allebach says. "Group-based learning is also effective in retaining underrepresented minorities and women, and it can be expected to benefit all students — underrepresented minorities, women, and non-minority men."

The project also will establish a digital classroom with 30 tablet PCs designed for collaborative learning and a design laboratory for student collaborations that features 16 large-screen monitors.

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