pairs students from different majors with a faculty mentor to create real-world solutions to real-world problems. Students gain experience that mirrors the workplace, and that sets them apart following graduation.
Immersive learning experiences continue to gain momentum at Ball State, as more students and campus departments are getting involved. From 2007–2009, 5,339 students took part in 285 immersive learning projects in 69 Indiana counties. Our departments are being creative in their development of these projects, seeking opportunities to pair students with community partners. During this two-year timeframe, 38 of our 47 departments offered immersive learning experiences for students.
Immersive learning takes many forms. From architecture, real estate management, and interior design students studying and rehabilitating blighted homes in downtown Muncie, Indiana, to history and telecommunications students producing a documentary about the demise of automobile manufacturing in Indiana to education, communication, and music technology students creating an interactive museum exhibit about honeybees, students learn to work together as a team to create a product that makes a difference in the lives of people or educates others in the community.
Polyark 18/World Tour 4 is a different example of immersive learning. In this biennial, international immersive learning experience, students from the College of Architecture and Planning visit 56 cities and 23 counties in 97 days. When they return, students apply what they’ve learned to a design project in their hometowns.
In all of these projects, students practice leadership and communication skills as they work together to solve problems, just like in the workplace.
Goal 1, Objective B: Increase by 10 percent per year the number of students participating in immersive learning experiences.
Goal 1, Objective B: By 2012, all departments will offer immersive learning experiences for each graduate.
Again in 2009, Ball State’s entrepreneurship program was ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report, a position it has held for more than a decade. One feature that sets our program apart is the senior capstone New Venture Creation course. In this immersive learning course, nicknamed “senior sweat,” students must present a viable business plan to a panel of experts in order to graduate.
The recognition for entrepreneurship is just one of the many Ball State has earned this year. Currently, 25 of our programs have earned national rankings or recognitions, on pace with the goal set in the 2007–2012 strategic plan.
Goal 1, Objective D: By 2012, have 25 nationally ranked or nationally recognized programs.
Students also got involved through our Health Fellows and BBC Fellows programs, gaining opportunities to practice skills learned in the classroom.
A Health Fellows team worked with the Wayne County 4-H Association to promote healthy eating and exercise and created a 12-month planner of games and wellness activities for children and their families. A group of BBC Fellows helped a nursery and ecological services firm create a database of native plant species, which will ensure appropriate plants are used in various climates. And another group developed an organizational needs assessment for a nonprofit organization that provides treatment, counseling, and job training for individuals dealing with substance abuse.
Goal 3, Objective C: Grow Building Better Communities projects and programs by 10 percent annually.
Goal 3, Objective E: By 2008, conduct 10 Building Better Communities projects annually in Indianapolis.
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