Rising to the LEAP Challenge: Case Studies of Integrative Pathways to Student Signature Work
Rising to the LEAP Challenge provides a series of case studies that reflect the "real-world" application of students' cumulative learning through signature work projects, as put forth in AAC&U's The LEAP Challenge. Such projects focus on complex questions that are meaningful to individual students and to society; require students to integrate, apply, demonstrate, reflect on, and communicate their cumulative learning; and require input from multiple disciplines and perspectives. Colleges and universities can best prepare students to accomplish signature work through guided-pathway curricula and cocurricular experiences in which students can develop and connect their knowledge and skills across broad and specialized study, over time. The thirteen case studies included in Rising to the LEAP Challenge demonstrate the variety of forms signature work can take, as well as the variety of institutional contexts and curricular pathways that can effectively support it. The cases are specifically tailored to provide practical advice for campus leaders seeking to design, implement, and assess integrative pathways to student signature work.
Brief descriptions of the focus of each case study are as follows:
Five core experiences, or “pillars,” serve as milestones along guided curricular pathways.
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY
A seminar approach to general education provides a curricular bridge between a first-year seminar and a capstone experience.
Individualized pathways culminate in an advanced project through which working adult students address a problem in which they feel personally invested.
A largely self-directed educational experience culminates in a student-designed capstone project.
LAGUARDIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE
From entrance to graduation, eportfolios facilitate the development and assessment of core competencies.
A core curriculum centered on enduring questions and ethical choices lays an interdisciplinary foundation for a senior project.
PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY
As part of a required capstone course, students work in teams to address a problem or issue affecting the local community.
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Eportfolios serve as “capstones in progress,” archiving signature assignments and enabling regular reflection on general education learning outcomes.
SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY
A new student-driven core curriculum integrates a broad range of courses and learning experiences.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY EDWARDSVILLE
Senior assignments, a degree requirement for all students in all programs, are enhanced by undergraduate research and creative activities.
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN OSHKOSH
An overhauled general education curriculum provides new pathways to capstone experiences in the majors.
A four-year curriculum that combines study of the liberal arts with experiential learning is capped by a yearlong project.
WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
A sequence of independent projects completed over four years provides practice in applying disciplinary learning to authentic problems that matter to society.