Curricular Framework: 2021 Institute on Integrative Learning and Signature Work

“Integrative learning is an understanding and a disposition that a student builds across the curriculum and cocurriculum, from making simple connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus.” – AAC&U Integrative Learning VALUE

As defined by the AAC&U Integrative Learning VALUE rubric, integrative learning is a complex process in students’ development. The scope of this outcome spans the curriculum and the co-curriculum, the classroom to the community, and college to career. The Institute curriculum is designed to support campus teams to advance their work through a focus on four themes:

Theme 1: Innovative Pedagogies for Integrative Learning 

This theme focuses on strategies and pedagogies that foster integrative learning through students’ course, community, and/or campus-based experiences that connect and synthesize their learning.  These experiences draw from resources in both the curriculum and the cocurriculum and can be local and/or global. Sessions will highlight high-impact practices that help students make connections between classroom and community contexts; foreground complex, global problems and solutions in multiple contexts; and foster inquiry-based products of learning that constitute signature work.

Theme 2: Application and Alignment of Community-Based Learning Across Campus

This theme addresses integrative learning across silos of community engagement that often exist on campuses. Sessions will address how to leverage community-based learning practices at the local, national, and global levels to deepen students’ integrative learning, create signature work, and support career preparation.

Theme 3: Assessment of Integrative Learning, and Signature Work

This theme highlights the role of multiple modes of assessment, including authentic assessment of signature work, to understand the equitable attainment of integrative learning and civic outcomes. Sessions will encourage participants to clarify learning goals, map programs and assignments to outcomes, apply rubric-based assessments, and utilize data to support student success for all students.

Theme 4: Leadership for Integrative Campus Change

This theme supports faculty, staff, and administrators as change agents to align integrative learning goals throughout campus by connecting students’ learning across departments, campus centers, and diverse stakeholders. Sessions will help participants explore how to navigate change initiatives; promote equity-focused conversations and inclusive environments for teaching and learning; leverage resources; and develop partnerships across and beyond the campus.


The Institute curriculum is also informed by five principles for quality integrative liberal education developed as part of AAC&U’s General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) project. These principles describe qualities that should be present across the entire curriculum and cocurriculum, that bridge general education and majors, and that connect the curriculum with students’ informal learning.

 Principle 1: Proficiency

Colleges and universities should provide clear statements of desired learning outcomes for all students, as well as design curricula and experiences that lead to the development of proficiencies that are demonstrated at progressively higher levels.

 Principle 2: Agency and Self-Direction

 All students should be active participants in creating an educational plan that enables them to understand the intellectual and personal capacities they are developing and act in principled and constructive ways.

 Principle 3: Integrative Learning and Problem-Based Inquiry

 Students should develop and demonstrate proficiency through inquiry into unscripted problems, combining and integrating curricular, cocurricular, and community-based learning as well as prior learning experiences.

 Principle 4: Equity

 A college education should be equity-minded in design and implementation, focusing on understanding and addressing inequalities in outcomes and advancing practices and policies aimed at achieving the full spectrum of learning outcomes for all students, regardless of their backgrounds.

 Principle 5: Transparency and Assessment

Students, faculty members, and other stakeholders should understand what proficiencies students are developing, and how these proficiencies can be demonstrated through authentic student work at key milestones in students’ progress toward the degree.


Design principles drawn from General Education Maps and Markers: Designing Meaningful Pathways to Student Achievement (Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2015).