Offering a range of instructional options for students, faculty

Teacher and students in a class

In welcoming Purdue’s largest freshman class ever in August 2020 — 8,925 first-year students contributing to record enrollment of 45,869 — students and faculty had a range of instructional options during the 2020-21 academic year, with a curriculum comprising in-person, hybrid, hyflex or fully online learning.

  • New, resilient pedagogy models blended in-class, hybrid and fully online features to ensure continuity of instruction for students and faculty in any eventuality, such as a student needing to quarantine after COVID-19 exposure.
  • 17 academic case managers (ACMs) provided a system of support for students to help them maintain academic progress while quarantined or isolated.
  • 5,200+ student cases were assigned to an academic case manager.
  • Students assigned an ACM were more likely to have earned 15 or more credit hours than those who chose not to work with an ACM.

Resilient pedagogy tenets

Recognizing that not all students would be able to attend class in person for some or all of the school year, students were allowed to choose whether they wanted to take courses on campus or online. Instructors redesigned courses to be resilient amid uncertainty while meeting Purdue’s same high standards of rigor and excellence.

  • Online offerings included a subset of available undergraduate courses, intentionally selected based on past enrollment, broad use across majors and plans of study, and input from department heads and associate deans.
  • 4,816 undergraduate and graduate students opted for a fully online experience during the Fall 2020 semester, primarily students outside the U.S. who were unable to get to campus because of travel restrictions. For Spring 2021, 3,141 students opted for the fully online cohort.
  • 640+ instructors took part in resilient pedagogy redesigns. Priority was given to courses that had the highest enrollment, were taken by new students and were part of the core curriculum.
  • Special focus also was given to large lecture, lab-intensive, experiential, writing-intensive and project/team/design courses. All classrooms were equipped with Boilercast lecture-capture for live and recorded videocasts of all classes.



FALL 2020/SPRING 2021

Advocates address technology needs

  • About 100 Technology Advocates were deployed as part of a new initiative for the spring semester to improve student learning and reduce instructional technology burdens. Feedback from instructors and students in the fall identified course technology as an area where more support was needed for the spring semester.
  • Technology Advocates assisted instructors with their Brightspace course, streaming and lecture capture tools (such as BoilerCast), and other instructional technologies related to their courses. The advocates also answered student questions on these topics.

Adopting alternative 2020-21 Academic Calendar

The typical academic schedule was reworked to minimize mass travel to and from campus to help build a campus bubble.

  • Fall 2020: The Labor Day holiday and October break were eliminated, and on-campus instruction ended at Thanksgiving. The balance of the semester was completed remotely, including the final exam period.
  • Spring 2021: Classes started a week later, on Jan. 19, and the weeklong spring break in mid-March was eliminated.

Purdue Led THE BIG TEN


FALL 2020/SPRING 2021

To build on the momentum from the strong student and faculty response to in-person instruction during the Fall 2020 semester, 744 fully in-person course sections were added for the Spring 2021 semester.

Fall 2020

Spring 2021

“Our students really benefited by attending classes and their participation in in-person experiences.”

Vice provost for teaching and learning

Introducing Reading Days

Refresh. Recreate. Reset. Purdue established Nov. 4, 2020, as the inaugural Reading Day, giving students and instructors the chance for a brief respite from classes. Embraced by students and faculty after it was piloted in the fall, three Reading Days were added to the calendar for the Spring 2021 semester. Reading Days on Feb. 17, March 18 and April 13 included “grab and go” food and fun activities, movies, games, yoga and meditation, free-play piano hubs and more.