Integrative learning is another dimension of successful general education programs that we learned about at the general education institute. It’s an approach to curriculum design that undergirds the kind of teaching practices, such as signature assignments and e-portfolios, that were discussed in recent newsletters. The AAC&U defines integrative learning as “an understanding and a disposition that a student builds across the curriculum and co-curriculum, from making simple connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus.”
Advocates of integrative learning seek to disperse general education learning outcomes throughout the student’s college experiences instead of clustering them in the first two years. General education courses are intentionally designed to create connections with courses in the major and with experiences outside the classroom. An integrative learning curriculum is often scaffolded around complex questions or so-called “wicked” problems, such as the global refugee crisis, that have constantly shifting parameters and no clear or obvious solutions. This kind of approach compels students to practice skills across disciplines, at increasingly advanced levels, synthesizing co-curricular and service learning or internship opportunities into a coherent educational experience.
Integrative Learning on the AAC&U website: https://www.aacu.org/resources/integrative-learning