Themed Learning Communities

Health Professions Themed Learning Community Students

Students in a Themed Learning Community (TLC) make new friends, form study groups, and interact with faculty – all key to a successful college experience. Statistics show that students who participate in a TLC do better than the typical IUPUI freshman and are more likely to graduate, according to Lauren Chism, who directs the TLC program at IUPUI.

For more information on TLC at IUPUI go to http://tlc.iupui.edu. TLC the IUPUI way provides both themed learning and tender loving care.

Here's a Look at One TLC: The Health Professions Themed Learning Community


Although we occasionally hear of individuals who have planned a career choice since preschool or at least long before they entered college -- remember those pilot’s wings you kept on your bulletin board or that bug collection to which you contributed regularly -- most high school students are unaware of the incredible number of career options that exist in the 21st century. From actuary or biogeochemist to forensic scientist or zoologist, the list is constantly growing. The initial years of college provide a unique opportunity to explore and select career options and to change majors and career goals during the quest.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, as a large urban university, offers a wide and growing variety of academic and extracurricular opportunities to prepare students for a multitude of professions. But navigating college and doing well in challenging courses while checking out and narrowing down career choices can be daunting.

So IUPUI has established Themed Learning Communities (TLCs). By linking freshman courses (a variation on team teaching) and focusing on a theme, IUPUI TLCs provide structure and a safety net to help new students focus on coursework, develop a sense of community, see connections across disciplines and, under the leadership of a TLC team leader, learn about potential careers.

For students who want to see if a science-related career might be the right fit, IUPUI’s Health Professions TLC provides a hands-on opportunity to explore a range of health related fields.

Each year, for a month prior to the beginning of freshman year, two dozen students who are considering careers in healthcare join the Health Professions TLC. There Michael Yard, M.S., of the School of Science's Department of Biology, a retired U.S. Army colonel known for his ability to inspire students, helps them prepare for college and also opens their eyes to career opportunities in science

Students in Health Professions Themed Learning CommunityArmed with newly acquired research skills and understanding of how to navigate the college scene, each student in the Health Professions TLC takes the same first semester freshman biology course, bio lab and communications course. Schedules also include a math course determined by the student’s mathematical preparation. Added to this are weekly sessions with Yard throughout the first semester during which he helps each student explore opportunities from ultrasound technician to orthodontist to researcher to nurse through a variety of learning experiences including visits to healthcare facilities and participation in volunteer activities.

These students learn a lot about health care but they learn even more about themselves. With exposure to sophisticated labs, patient care and even autopsies, they may come to the realization that they don’t really like what they thought they wanted to do and would rather major in engineering or English; that they were exactly right about what they want to do or they may even be able to narrow it down to yes, I would like to work directly with patients -- especially older adults, or individuals with disabilities or people with limited access to dental care.”

Critical to the popularity and success of the Health Professions TLC is the student mentor (who brings a unique prospective and ability to reach the students), librarian Randall Halverson (who instructs the students in the research tools and methods needed to succeed in college) and an academic advisor, who helps the students understand and meet all the requirements needed to graduate and to be prepared for their chosen career path. Add to these Corinne Ulbright, Ph.D., Denise Slayback-Barry, Ph.D., and Mike Polites, M.A., the instructors in biology, bio lab and communication respectively, and each student has a formidable team in his or her corner.