First-Year Integration

An introduction to the integrative nature of learning

As a starting point to their careers at USD, students are introduced to the integrative nature of learning through courses in the Learning Communities (LC) program. Living Learning Communities (LLC) and Transfer Learning Communities (TLC) are parallel programs that allow students to be able to satisfy the Core requirement for first-year integration. Students are expected to recognize that people bring different perspectives to scholarly inquiry, discuss how real-world problem solving is inherently integrated and describe the value of multiple perspectives to scholarly inquiry and/or problem solving.

Integration through Learning Communities

LLC themes: Advocate, Collaborate, Cultivate, Illuminate (Honors), Innovate | TLC theme: Engage.

LLC themes: Advocate, Collaborate, Cultivate, Illuminate (Honors), Innovate | TLC theme: Engage.

Learn to Recognize and Articulate

Emphasis is placed on how to recognize broad connections across disciplines and articulate the value of being able to approach a problem from multiple disciplinary perspectives. This is done by looking at real-world problems related to the LC themes.

Two major academic events are designed to help students achieve the learning outcomes of First Year Integration:

  • Students practice First Year Integration in either the LLC Integration Series, or an Interdisciplinary Faculty Exchange (TLCs)
  • Students demonstrate First Year Integration in their First Year Integration Project.

Incoming freshmen experience First Year Integration over two semesters – they practice in the fall and demonstrate their learning in the spring. Transfer students complete the entire First Year Integration in one semester.

Practicing Integration

Throughout the semester Learning Community faculty provide class examples connecting their course to their LC theme (e.g., how do Natural Disasters connect to Advocate/Social Justice?). In addition, students will experience an academic event dedicated to practicing integration from a different perspective than their current class. In line with USD’s mission and vision, these interdisciplinary faculty team-led events will often confront humanity’s urgent challenges, such as Black Lives Matter, homelessness, climate change, or immigration. 

After attending this event students will be asked to self-reflect on how their own understanding might be enhanced by thinking about a big picture question from more than one perspective. Students receive feedback on their reflection assignment so that they can make improvements in their understanding of integrative learning. There are two types of models for this first integrative academic event:

  • Students in TLCs will attend an Interdisciplinary Faculty Exchange, where two professors present a mini team-taught lecture, or one professor provides a guest lecture, giving perspective through the lens of their discipline on a common topic within the Engage TLC theme. TLC Practicing First Year Integration Assignment.
  • Students in LLCs will attend a Integration Series event in their LLC theme. Each themes’ series event will be presented by faculty from across multiple disciplines. LLC Practicing First Year Integration Assignment.

Demonstrating Integration

Students demonstrate First Year Integration via the First Year Integration Project, which typically consists of a presentation and a reflection designed by the professor teaching the course. 

In prior years, the presentation component has taken place in the LC Showcases. Due to current social distancing limitations on large gatherings, the LC Showcases will not take place in the academic year 2020-21. However, the brief video is shown here to illustrate the types of presentations students have done in the past, and to provide inspiration.

Core Summary Practice and Demonstrate Slide FA20