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Integrative Learning

Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 11 years, 10 months ago

Integrative Learning

The challenge – ‘Developing students’ ability to integrate and apply learning in different contexts is an important piece of what makes higher education relevant to today’s world. On any given day newspaper headlines point to the need for graduates who are sophisticated in their thinking, able to discern complexity in situations, and motivated to continuously seek better, more responsible, solutions to problems encountered in work, in life and in society… The current context also requires graduates who are creative; who can anticipate the not-yet-known, and negotiate rapid technological, cultural, and global shifts.’ Association of American Colleges and Universities (2009). These perspectives are also relevant to the development of learners as capable professionals.


Curriculum Challenge: How can we improve students’ ability to integrate, apply and adapt their learning in different contexts, as part of their journey towards becoming capable professionals?

Our solution at the University of Surrey is to create an Award that will value integrative learning and encourage students to show how they are integrating and using their learning in a range of contexts.


Surrey Award : a design for integrative learning(ideas paper)

Powerpoint presentation Integrative Learning: Managing the Complexities Conference Atlanta October 22-23rd 2009

Podcast describing the development of the award


Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Integrative Learning Project : 'Opportunities to Connect'

Fostering students’ abilities to integrate learning—across courses, over time, and between campus and community life—is one of the most important goals and challenges of higher education. The undergraduate experience can be a fragmented landscape of general education courses, preparation for the major, co-curricular activities, and “the real world” beyond the campus. But an emphasis on integrative learning can help undergraduates put the pieces together and develop habits of mind that prepare them to make informed judgments in the conduct of personal, professional, and civic life.


Integrative learning comes in many varieties: connecting skills and knowledge from multiple sources and experiences; applying theory to practice in various settings; utilizing diverse and even contradictory points of view; and, understanding issues and positions contextually. Significant knowledge within individual disciplines serves as the foundation, but integrative learning goes beyond academic boundaries. Indeed, integrative experiences often occur as learners address real-world problems, unscripted and sufficiently broad to require multiple areas of knowledge and multiple modes of inquiry, offering multiple solutions and benefiting from multiple perspectives.


Integrative learning does not just happen, although it may come more easily for some students than for others. Whether one is talking about making connections within a major, between fields, between curriculum and co-curriculum, or between academic knowledge and practice, integrative learning requires work. Of course, students must play the most important role in making this happen, but their success depends in large part on commitment and creativity from professors, staff, and administration.


Four brief essays explore ways in which colleges and universities can foster integrative learning through curriculum, assessment, pedagogy, and faculty development, using examples from campuses participating in the Integrative Learning Project.


Essays on integrative learning

Mary Huber Integrative Learning as an Intellectual Art

Richard Gale Fostering Integrative Learning through Pedagogy

Pat Hutchings Fostering Integrative Learning through Faculty Development

Ross Miller Fostering Integrative Learning through Assessment


Ten campuses were involved in the project:

Carleton College (Northfield, MN)

College of San Mateo (San Mateo, CA)

LaGuardia Community College /CUNY (Long Island City, NY)

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (North Adams, MA)

Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)

Philadelphia University (Philadelphia, PA)

portland state university (portland, or)

Salve Regina University (Newport, RI)

State University of New York College at Oswego (Oswego, NY)

University of Charleston (Charleston, WV)


Integrative Learning Project Report 

Editors Mary Taylor Huber, Cheryl Brown, Pat Hutchings, Richard Gale, Ross Miller, and Molly Breen (January 2007). Integrative Learning: Opportunities to Connect. Public Report of the Integrative Learning Project sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Edited by Mary Taylor Huber, Cheryl Brown, Pat Hutchings, Richard Gale, Ross Miller, and Molly Breen. Stanford, CA. Includes sections that refer to projects at Carleton (Carleton's Integrative Learning Team and Trish Ferrett's integrative seminar pedagogy ).

Huber, Mary Taylor and Hutchings, Pat (2004). Integrative Learning: Mapping the Terrain. Associate of American Colleges and Universities.

2005 Carnegie Scholars Cohort scholarly research on Integrative Science Learning:


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