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PLaCE Program History

Celebrating 10 Years of International Leaps at Purdue through Language and Cultural Exchange: 20142024

Created in 2014, PLaCE celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2024. The program has expanded over the years, but our core mission remains the same: provide a supportive academic program to help Purdue’s international students develop advanced levels of English language proficiency and intercultural competence.  
We are excited to commemorate this 10 year mark by hosting our second Showcase event on February 29, 2024, to celebrate our students' work and connect members of the university in discussions of internationalization.

Establishment of English Language Courses and the PLaCE Program

The seeds of PLaCE were planted in 2012 with a handful of voluntary “General Studies” classes offered through Student Success. The classes took root because undergraduate students and faculty saw the need for additional language support for a growing number of international undergraduate students. The increase in enrollment by international undergraduate students prompted discussions around campus about the need for academic English language support for  students who had learned English as a second language.
In 2014, PLaCE began as a two-year pilot program to address the needs of the university’s significant growth in international undergraduate students in previous years. The pilot program was made possible through initial support from the Office of the President through Purdue Moves. 
By 2015, one year of data from PLaCE demonstrated the efficacy of the program through
  • initial results from the two-semester English classes GS 100 and 101;
  • a co-curricular Language Partner Program designed to enhance parallel language development by matching PLaCE international students with domestic students in the Chinese language program;
  • the development of non-credit Short Courses for graduate students and advanced undergraduate students; and
  • the Assessment of College English-International (ACE-In), a locally developed and locally rated internet-based test that measures pre-post English language proficiency gains and informs high-stakes administrative decisions on course placement/exemption. 
In 2017, the Board of Trustees approved a fee-based funding model to provide sustainable financial support. PLaCE's instructional staff expanded from 7 full-time Lecturers in 2014 to 17 Lecturers in 2019. In 2021, the original two Graduate Testing Assistant lines were consolidated into a full-time Testing Associate position.
Over the years, the original General Studies courses became English 110 and 111. Short Courses were expanded to support advanced learning for international students at the undergraduate or graduate studies levels. Several recurring and summer intensive language institutes were developed. All of these growths speak to the continued need for the program and the increase in diversity of the campus as we welcome more international Boilermakers.

Two Years of Transition: Through the Pandemic and Back Again

In 2020–2021, PLaCE transitioned to online instruction and language testing for 39 sections of ENGL 110 and 9 sections of ENGL 111 to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the needs of international students who were not able to come to campus for their first year of studies. From August 2020 until July 2021, PLaCE served 555 undergraduate students in ENGL 110 (down 13% from 640 students in the previous, pre-pandemic year, AY 19–20) and 402 undergraduate students in ENGL 111 (down 18% from 488 students in AY 19–20). In response to the COVID-19 situation where students took ENGL 110 from abroad, PLaCE partnered with ProctorU®, a digital proctoring service, to administer the in-house Assessment of College English–International (ACE-In) to a total of 89 ENGL 110 students requesting an exemption from ENGL 111. 
In 2021-2022, PLaCE successfully transitioned back to (mostly) in-person instruction and language testing.  From August 2021 until May 2022, PLaCE served 436 undergraduate students in ENGL 110 and 334 undergraduate students in ENGL 111. Since June 2022, PLaCE has continued the partnership with ProctorU® to administer the ACE-In each summer to a small percentage of incoming students admitted without proficiency test scores to help place these students into an appropriate English Language or Written Communication course.

Organizational and Leadership Developments

In 2017, PLaCE's administrative home moved to the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). By this time, the original General Studies courses had become English 110 and 111. Starting in summer 2024, the course prefix for foundational courses will be updated from ENGL 110 and 111 to SCLA 110 and 111  to reflect the program's administrative home in CLA.
Over the years, Short Courses were expanded to support advanced learning for international students at the undergraduate or graduate studies levels. Currently, Short Courses are organized in four course formats to better meet students' needs and schedules.
In 2022, founding Director of PLaCE and Professor of English April Ginther retired. Matthew Allen (formerly Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction) was promoted to Director and Lixia Cheng (formerly Assistant Director of Testing) was promoted to Associate Director of Evaluation.
In 2023, as part of the CLA "Big Moves" ProjectPLaCE relocated from its longtime home in the basement level of Heavilon Hall to the 8th floor of Young Hall, where it shares space with the Oral English Proficiency Program (OEPP).