We present the results of a research study exploring whether an integrated professional-student learning experience can better address the urgent demand for data-savvy, collaborative students ready to contribute on day one of their professional careers. The Interactive Professional Learning Experience (IPLE) brings practitioners into the classroom to work with students in an active learning setting. Our IPLE includes four steps: a guest speaker presentation to introduce the topic, assignment of a case project to student teams, a collaborative lab session with professionals and student teams, and finally, presentations to the original guest speaker and class. Pre- and post-test assessments indicate significantly positive improvement in student learning as compared to two other course sections that did not include the full IPLE. Questionnaire responses indicate overwhelmingly positive perceptions of the experience, including improved learning, satisfaction, and effectiveness. Overall, student feedback indicates the IPLE was an effective learning mechanism for students that simulates what they will encounter in the profession.

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