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A Web Letter from the Office of the Provost - November 2021

By Mary Jane Chew

Steps-to-Leaps celebrates two years of impact

In the fall of 2019, Purdue kicked-off the Steps to Leaps initiative with presentations, a faculty research panel, a student panel and table discussions among the nearly 200 participants at a summit in the Purdue ballrooms.

Today, Steps to Leaps is a cohesive framework of educational materials, media and programming that supports students through its five pillars.

Steps to Leaps grew from a desire to support student personal growth, with a focus on resiliency and grit. At the time, Purdue had experienced significant upticks in demand for counseling services, Student of Concern reports and issues rising to the Behavioral Intervention Team. Students reported knowing that support services were available but did not always know where or how to access the resources.

The Five pillars were developed to serve as a framework for the Steps to Leaps initiative and a growth mindset was added to encourage continuous growth of students.

The Pillars

Well-Being – Staying healthy in body, brain and spirit is a life-long journey. Learn strategies to improve your own well-being with steps to security, health and prosperity.

Leadership and Professional Development – Boilermakers have a strong tradition of leadership in their careers and communities. Learn how to tap into your own strengths as you become the next generation of leaders with steps to initiative, guidance and direction.

Impact – Every Boilermaker strives to leave their footprint, and world-changing examples can be found throughout Purdue’s rich history. Learn the importance of creating an impact through your everyday action with steps to modify, touch and influence.

Networks – A strong network serves as a resource throughout your life. The tightest networks are created by connections with individuals and require active participation. Learn how to build your network with steps to making connections and bonds.

Grit – Life is full of ups and downs. Learn strategies to tap into your inner fortitude to overcome challenges and become your best Boilermaker with steps to resolve and character.

The Goals

To advance the initiative, three initial goals were established:  

  1. Create impactful content and launch the initiative.
    • This goal was met, in part, by creating video learning modules, hosting lunch and learns and adding 30 training modules to Brightspace and the Training at Purdue and Steps to Leaps websites.
  2. Communicate to students about the resources available to them.
    • In addition to more robust communication about how and where students could access support services, additional student services were created within the Office of the Dean of Students and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Also, this past summer, a new senior director of CAPS, Chris Hanes, joined the Student Life team.
  3. Leverage Technology
    • The Steps to Leaps team is utilizing existing apps and tools such as WellTrack and BoilerConnect to better reach and support students in a more seamless manner.

Steps-to-Leaps has also been guided by research led by professor Louis Tay, associate professor of industrial organization in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Tay’s work focuses on the creation of standardized assessment to measure student growth in the Pillar areas.

Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life, is proud of the impact Steps to Leaps has had in the past two years and says they are just getting started.

“Our goals for the near future include a continued focus on assessment, expanding our programmatic partnerships with the colleges and more collaboration and integration with programs that align with Steps to Leaps,” she said. “We know that there is a lot of synergy between the desired outcomes of Steps to Leaps and Transformative Ed 2.0 and we plan to maximize the connections between the two. We also plan to review our current language and program construction to assure equitable access and relevance for underrepresented students at Purdue. “ 

More details about the progress, programming and impact of Steps to Leaps is available in their Fall 2021 Update.