Curricular Framework: 2018 Institute on Integrative Learning and Signature Work

Institute Curriculum

Beginning with a shared definition of integrative learning from the AAC&U VALUE rubric—which states that 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—the Institute curriculum is organized around four themes.

Theme 1: Innovative Pedagogies for Integrative and Global Learning

This theme will focus on strategies that foster integrative learning and promote students’ intellectual and personal development across the curriculum and cocurriculum. Sessions will highlight high-engagement practices that help students make connections; foreground complex, unscripted problems and globally oriented solutions; and foster inquiry-based learning across disciplines, including through signature work.

Theme 2: Civic Engagement: Applied Community-Based Learning

This theme will address integrative learning through civic knowledge and engagement. Sessions will address intercultural knowledge and competence, ethical reasoning and action, and foundations and skills for lifelong learning, all anchored in active involvement with diverse communities and real-world challenges.

Theme 3: Assessment and Integrative Learning

This theme will highlight authentic assessment that demonstrates and enables integrative learning. Sessions will help participants improve the clarity of learning goals, map programs and assignments to outcomes, apply rubric-based assessments, and use disaggregated data in equity-minded ways.

Theme 4: Faculty and Administrative Leadership for Integrative Learning

This theme will focus on developing the capacity of faculty, staff, and administrators to advance robust integrative learning goals in and across departments and throughout the institution. Sessions will help participants explore how to navigate educational change; shape equity-minded departmental and campus cultures that advance and reward innovative pedagogies, as well as engaged and inclusive teaching; and build and leverage 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).