Curricular Framework: 2016 Institute on Integrative Learning and the Departments

Institute Curriculum

The Institute curriculum is organized around four themes; team members are encouraged to disperse among the themes according to interests and needs.

Theme 1: Innovative Pedagogies for Integrative and Global Learning

This theme will focus on strategies that foster integrative learning and promote student intellectual and personal development across the curriculum and co-curriculum. Sessions will highlight high-engagement practices that help students make connections across all aspects of their learning; foreground complex, unscripted problems and globally-oriented solutions; and foster inquiry-based learning across disciplines.

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 of student work that demonstrates integrative learning. Sessions will assist with improving the clarity of learning goals, mapping programs and assignments to outcomes, applying rubric-based assessments, and using disaggregated assessment 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. Sessions will explore how to navigate educational change; shape equity-minded departmental cultures that advance and reward innovative pedagogies and engaged teaching; and build and leverage partnerships across and beyond the campus.


The GEMs Design Principles

The Institute curriculum is also informed by five principles for redesigning liberal education to increase student success. These design principles from AAC&U’s General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) project describe qualities that should be present across the entire curriculum and co-curriculum, connecting general education and majors, and the curriculum with students’ informal learning.

Principle 1: Proficiency

Colleges and universities should provide clear statements of desired learning outcomes for all students. Similarly, general education, in all institutional and alternative settings, should provide programs, curricula, and experiences that lead to the development of demonstrable, portable proficiencies aligned to widely valued areas of twenty-first-century knowledge and skill. Students should achieve and demonstrate progressively higher levels of proficiency through problem-centered work on significant issues relevant to their interests and aims.

Principle 2: Agency and Self-Direction

General education should play a critical role in helping all students understand, pursue, and devleop the proficiencies needed for work, life, and responsible citizenship. Students should be active participants in creating an educational plan in which they identify and produce high-quality work on significant questions relevant to their interests and aims. Undergraduate education should enable students to understand the intellectual and personal capacities they are developing that will help them achieve their educational and professional goals, enrich their lives, and act in principled and constructive ways, both as individuals and in their roles in society.

Principle 3: Integrative Learning and Problem-Based Inquiry

Students should develop and demonstrate proficiency through a combination and integration of curricular, cocurricular, and community-based learning, as well as prior learning experiences, including in institutions and in local, global, and virtual communities and networks. Students should demonstrate proficiencies through inquiry into unscripted questions and problems that are relevant to their interests and aims and where a full understanding of the problem requires insights from multiple areas of study.

Principle 4: Equity

General education programs should be equity-minded in design and implementation. This requires a cognitive shift in the ways faculty and administrators understand and address inequalities in outcomes among students of color, students with disabilities, low-income and first-generation students, returning adult students, veterans, and others. General education programs should advance practices and policies that are aimed at achieving the full specturm 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 are being developed in any general education program, course, or activity, and how these proficiencies can be demonstrated at key milestones in sthe students' progress toward the degree. Students and institutions should be able to point to students' work, especially their "Signature Work" in problem- and project-based inquiry, as demonstrations of proficiency worthy of credit across institutional settings and as a body of work associated with earning 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).