Advanced Integration

Integrative learning asks students and faculty to connect across disciplines, synthesize disparate areas of knowledge, and to pose the “big questions”.

Core curriculum components connect and build on one another and integrative learning is an approach that creates an opportunity for students to make connections among ideas and experiences to synthesize knowledge. Integrated learning is defined in the Integration Area Task Force (ATF) Report as,

  • making connections between disciplines,
  • applying knowledge in a variety of contexts, and/or
  • making connections between curricular and co-curricular activities.

At the Advanced level students are required to complete an Integrated Core Project where they synthesize across Core areas

The four learning outcomes for Integration in USD’s Core Curriculum are:

  1. Recognize broad connections between multiple disciplines, perspectives, and/or approaches to learning. [first-year integration; recommended for advanced integration]
  2. Articulate how the integration of different disciplines, perspectives, and approaches to learning can enhance ones’ understanding of practical issues and problems. [first-year integration; recommended for advanced integration]
  3. Synthesize knowledge and/or skills from multiple disciplines or perspectives. [advanced integration]
  4. Apply knowledge and/or skills from multiple disciplines or perspectives. [advanced integration]

 


 

Advanced Integration and the Integrative Core Project

 

How are students prepared for Advanced Integration?

In first year integration students practice recognizing and articulating connections between multiple disciplines, perspectives, and/or approaches to learning. They are also prompted to reflect on how these connections can enhance one’s understanding of practical issues and problems.  For example, in their first semester their Learning Community faculty member provides class examples connecting their course to their LC theme (e.g., how do Natural Disasters connect to Advocate/Social Justice?). Then students attend an Open Classroom where they are exposed to a second discipline from their same LC theme (see video footage of an Open Classroom here). They practice recognizing and articulating these connections and contexts and self-reflect on how their own understanding might be enhanced by thinking about a big picture question from more than one perspective (example Open Classroom Reflection assignment here). After a full semester practicing recognizing and articulating integration students then enter their second semester in another course being taught within their same LC theme. They now have two courses or disciplines by which to connect to their LC theme and are prompted to demonstrate these connections through an assignment they present at the end of their first year LC experience at the Integration Showcase (see video footage of the Showcase here). Transfer students undergo a similar experience which is completed in one semester instead of two (see video footage of the TLC Showcase here).

 

What is the Integrative Core Project?

The Integrative Core Project is the culminating experience for students nearing the completion of their Core curriculum. An assignment prompt for a Core Project must be included in all courses proposed for Advanced Integration. This provides consistency of experience across the Core, analogous to the Showcase assignment that is completed by all first-year students for first year integration. To enhance student success in the Integrative Core Project students can benefit from knowing that the purpose of this project is to make connections between disciplines, apply knowledge in a variety of contexts, or make connections between curricular and co-curricular activities in order to synthesize Core competencies.

 

The two learning outcomes for advanced integration, shortened here to “apply” and “synthesize”, must be included in assignment prompts in all advanced integration courses. It is recommended, however, that assignments also prompt students to meet the first-year integration learning outcomes “recognize” and “articulate” since it is difficult to apply and synthesize concepts that have not been articulated. During articulation students also reflect on how connecting between disciplines, perspectives, and approaches to learning can enhance one’s understanding of practical issues and problems. Students are receiving a solid foundation in first year integration through their LC experience and are therefore well prepared to tackle advanced integration. Thus, exemplary assignment prompts will allow students to demonstrate mastery of recognizing, articulating, synthesizing, and applying integrative concepts, whilst also reflecting on the development of their own integrative learning through their entire Core experience, culminating in the Integrative Core Project.

 

Example text for all Core Project Assignment Prompts

Students benefit from knowing why they are completing a particular assignment, and how that assignment fits into the greater structure of a course. The Core Project is a larger effort because students need to synthesize across the Core, meaning they need to make connections to previous courses. As such, it is recommended that the purpose of the Core Project be explained to students in their assignment prompt, using text such as this (feel free to copy and paste this text directly into your own assignment):

Throughout your time at USD you have completed courses spanning different inquiry areas, such as scientific and technological inquiry, historical, artistic, literary, ethical, social, religious, and DISJ inquiry areas. These have been complemented with skills or competencies like written and oral communication, critical thinking, information literacy, and math and quantitative reasoning. Together, these courses constitute your Core Curriculum.

In this Integrative Core Project you will synthesize across Core areas to demonstrate your integrative learning ability. Integrated learning is defined as,

  • making connections between disciplines,
  • applying knowledge in a variety of contexts, and/or
  • making connections between curricular and co-curricular activities.

In first-year integration you practiced recognizing and articulating these connections between multiple disciplines, perspectives, and/or approaches to learning. You also reflected on how these connections can enhance one’s understanding of practical issues and problems.  For example, during your first year Integration Showcase experience you demonstrated and reflected upon connections between your LC class and your LC theme.

In this Integrative Core Project you will build on your first-year integration experience by drawing meaningful connections between diverse perspectives in a way that enhances the overall body of knowledge presented.

 

Example Assignment Prompts for the Integrative Core Project

The Integration ATF Report states that the Integrated Core Project can be part of a wide variety of courses including:

  • team-taught
  • interdisciplinary cluster
  • community engagement
  • interdisciplinary research
  • interdisciplinary capstone
  • interdisciplinary project-based course
  • discipline-specific independent study that incorporates integrative learning (see definition above)

 

Rubric for Integrative Core Project   Coming soon! 

Faculty: Submitting my course for Advanced Integration   Coming soon!