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The Eastern Integrative Learning Experience (ILE). What is Integrative Learning?.

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what is integrative learning
What is Integrative Learning?

Integrative learning entails providing students with coherent curricula, significant learning and life experiences outside of the traditional classroom context, and ample opportunity for guided reflection, enabling students to tie the disparate parts of their academic, personal, and professional lives into a holistic, transformative university experience.

why integrative learning
Why Integrative Learning?

• A concept with an existing body of literature

• Speaks directly to Eastern’s overarching goal -- being the “best”

• An umbrella for the academic initiatives which we have been pursuing for several years: Study Abroad, Undergraduate Scholarship, Honors, Service Learning

• Includes many elements of the educational experience we have offered for many years

characteristics of integrative learning
Characteristics of Integrative Learning
  • Intentionality
  • Reflection
  • Problem-solving
  • Collaboration
  • Engagement
  • Metacognition
integrative learning requires
Integrative Learning Requires:

Intentionally and purposefully including two activities in courses and in co-curricular activities:

1. Connecting (skills and knowledge from multiple sources and experiences)

2. Reflecting (on learning, experience, and the connections between them).

high impact integrative experiences
High Impact, Integrative Experiences
  • First-Year Seminars and Experiences
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  • Writing Intensive Courses
  • Study Abroad
  • Research, Scholarship, Creative Activity
  • Student Teaching
  • Internships
  • Service-Learning, Community-Based Learning
what do these have in common
What do these have in common?
  • Each puts the student in a practical situation in which she has problems to solve or challenges to overcome.
  • Each requires the student to apply skills and knowledge acquired in one context to a situation in a different context.
how can we prepare students to take full advantage of these experiences
How can we prepare students to take full advantage of these experiences?
  • Instill habits of reflection
  • Encourage students to be intentional about their choices, both academic and personal/professional
  • Provide experiences in which students can practice integrating skills and knowledge from one context into another

“One of the oddest things about the university is that it calls itself a ‘community of scholars,’ yet it organizes itself in a way that conceals the intellectual links of that community from those who don't already see them.”

--Gerald Graff. “Colleges Are Depriving Students of a Connected View of Scholarship.” Chronicle of Higher Education. 13 Feb. 1991

types of integrative learning
Types of Integrative Learning
  • Horizontal
  • Vertical
  • Global
  • Personal
  • “Cosmic”

Adapted in part from SUNY Oswego catalyst project

horizontal academic integration
Horizontal Academic Integration
  • Provides opportunities for students to reflect upon connections among their courses through exercises such as one-minute papers, focused class discussions, reflective assignments.
vertical academic integration
Vertical Academic Integration
  • Encourages students to reach back and review/use skills used in prerequisite courses to enhance learning in current course.
  • Encourages students to reach back to general education courses to provide grounding and inform learning in major courses.
global academic integration
Global Academic Integration
  • Encourages students to make connections among courses using an overarching concept or theory that applies to many courses.
personal integration
Personal Integration
  • Encourages students to apply academic learning to outside-of-class experiences.
  • Encourages students to bring personal, social, cultural, and professional experiences to bear on what they are learning in class.
cosmic integration
“Cosmic” Integration
  • Enables students to recognize the interconnectedness of all things.
what have we accomplished
What have we accomplished?


  • Presidential buy-in
  • General diffusion of the idea
  • Website with information and student examples
  • Departmental discussions – predominantly listings of things already being done
  • An increase in the number of integrative experiences
  • Not a lot of vocal or overt push-back
  • Many faculty doing things consistent with IL
elements of ile
Elements of ILE

EIU Reads

Appreciative Advising

General Education

Major/Minor Curricula

Student Life

Co-Curricular Experiences

eiu reads
EIU Reads
  • Enhances critical reading skills
  • Develops social/academic skills through interactions with faculty and students
  • Can provide a follow-up assignment wherein the student reflects on her own reading tastes, strengths, & abilities
appreciative advising
Appreciative Advising
  • Academic advisors include discussions of student’s career goals and personal aspirations while recommending courses and co-curricular activities.
general education
General Education

•Include assignments that allow student to reflect upon her own learning process

• Include assignments that allow student to connect to other coursework

• Chosen to coincide with student’s academic and career goals

• Provide opportunities in each course to connect to material in other courses: e.g., literature connects to psychology, political science to ethics, sociology to history, fine arts to physics . . . .

major minor curricula
Major/Minor Curricula
  • Classes build upon disciplinary expertise but also reach back to General Education classes in science, social science, fine arts, humanities
  • Include assignments that allow students to reflect on learning process, human experience …
some considerations
Some Considerations

• How often can personal/professional reflection be incorporated into coursework?

• Can students’ personal/professional aspirations be contextualized through their coursework?

• Can academic content be applied to out-of-class experiences?


• How coherent is the curriculum and is that coherence explicitly explained to students?

• How can Reflection be embedded in the curriculum and be required before and after all major integrative activities

honors pilot
Honors Pilot

• The Presidential Scholars Program has included several elements to promote integrated academic and personal development:

Academic Plan

Required participation in student

life activities

Required high impact experience

• For all freshman Honors students, the new 1- credit required class


In the curricular development/approval process, what might be CAA’s role?

• Can College curriculum committees be asked to consider IL as they look at course proposals?

• Can there be particular expectations of General Ed. proposals for intentional inclusion of IL?

• Could there be a review of General Ed. with an eye on IL?

• Other?