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Integrative Learning Innovative Pedagogy and Course Redesign IX Center for Academic Excellence, Fairfield University, June 3-5, 2009 Tona Hangen, History and Political Science

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Integrative Learning: Definitions “Synthesis” within a single course – tying knowledge together Building relationships and connections among ideas, concepts and disciplinary perspectives – helping students connect different kinds of knowing across courses Learning over the whole college experience, curricular & cocurricular Goal: no “floating” disconnected bits of knowledge

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Basic Universal Principles of IL ALL students need multiple opportunities to: Make connections Reflect both backwards and forwards Dialogue with others Get feedback Goal = “Meta-Learners” or Expert Learners – students who understand their own learning process

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Students’ Epistemological Beliefs about Knowledge Affect their Learning Content of Knowledge discrete bits of info connected into integrated concepts Certainty of Knowledge permanent, fixed tentative & subject to change Where knowledge comes from external authority constructed by self

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Students’ Epistemological Beliefs about their Abilities Affect their Learning Ability to Improve you’re either you can always smart or dumb improve ability to learn Speed and Ease of Learning you either get it right away you have to work or you never do at it, learning is a process

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Best Practices Backward design: begin with the end in mind. “What will graduates know, be able to do?” Develop outcomes against which learning can be measured. Provide for student education and faculty development (since faculty tend to teach the way they were taught, and they probably were not taught in way that fostered integrative learning) Build “change” into the structure: course and curriculum development is not a final product, it is an ongoing process

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Case Study: Assignment in “QU101” (Quinnipiac University) First-year seminar: weekly journaling linking together a common class reading, a chosen NYT article, and a student’s choice article from an online alternative news source. Groups led discussion each Friday (each group had 3 dates per semester). Notable improvement in discussion quality & journal quality over the course of the term. Students practiced linking material & ideas – they got better because of the practice. It also got students reading newspapers and connecting the outside world to the course content. The meta-learning: thinking about their thinking

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Case Study: Why Learning Portfolios? (Alverno College) Changes student culture – education is not “what we do to them” but what “they do to themselves” Catch them early, and needs to be throughout the publicity material – not selling the college as what “we give you” (consumer model) When used in FYS, it becomes simply “what we do here” not “what the professor delivers” Provides support, assessment and reward for the behaviors we want to see

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Case Study: Learning Portfolios (Alverno College) Key Questions @ the end of an assignment or course What did you learn? Which learning goals worked for you, which didn’t? How did you learn? Which learning activities helped you the most, the least? What does that tell you about your learning? What does that tell you about the process of learning? Whatever you learned, what’s its significance FOR YOU? Plan for future learning: what else do you want to learn? How will you learn that? If students do this over & over in course after course, they move towards meta-learning. E-Portfolio is a convenient way to house this, because it can pull in not only classroom learning but cocurricular learning

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Case Study: Student Research at Albertus Magnus Goal: find ways to get students involved in research through partnering with faculty (and not only in the sciences) They formed a “Student Research Council” (to provide institutional information, workshops & support) which sponsors annual Student Research Symposium (place to disseminate results & celebrative achievement) A form of integrative learning, heightens engagement & creativity in the learning process for both faculty & students

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Case Study: Using Reflection in an Accounting Ethics Course (Fairfield U) Involve multiple moral theories – there are ALWAYS more than 2 solutions The thinking and engagement process matters, not coming to any certain answer Consider different learning styles too Reflections are written after each class about the ethical dilemmas, using questions like: What did I learn about MYSELF as a result of discussing this case? What aspects of the case most deeply affected me and why? Did I gain any new insights? What new issues do I want to consider as a result?

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Case Study: Implementing a new Integrative Gen Ed Curriculum (Bates) The GenEd, because it’s common to all students, is the one place to show what an institution truly values They developed a new curriculum (last revision: 35 yrs ago). Used a 5-person “design” team as a think tank, and then a “political team” to communicate w/ the campus community. Process needs to be productive and transparent. Good technology is essential in implementation New system = students choose a major “plus two” – 2nd major, a minor, and/or “General Education Concentration” (GEC), a cluster of 4 courses chosen from a crossdisciplinary list (of existing courses) grouped around large guiding theme (e.g. “Sound,” “Public Health”). GECs have either a gateway or a capstone course Key point: the curriculum is dynamic, not static.

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Case Study: Integrating Writing into the GenEd Curriculum (Bates) Goal: stop thinking of writing as one course to “get out of the way” in your first year, but rather as something to be valued and built throughout the curriculum Theirs has 3 tiers: W1 = typical first year course, resulting in a 1st-yr paper (read/assessed by faculty from across the college) W2 = sophomore or junior “writing intensive” type course W3 = senior thesis (97% of Bates students write one) To make this work, they had to beef up their peer writing center AND their faculty development – e.g. an annual “Community of Inquiry Day” for faculty And they had to develop outcome-centered rubrics for thesis assessment in many disciplines

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Case Study: “Student Learning Community” (UConn Avery Point) Goal: work within a big state system to create a smaller academic “home” around a particular theme (in this case, “Looking for Indians: Native Americans and the Environment” – in future years, e.g. “Globalization”) Interested faculty were identified and met weekly the previous year before rollout. Faculty made small adjustments to their existing courses to develop & tie in to the theme Project developers created an integrative course that all LC students would take, organized around 4 core questions.

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Case Study: Developmental Math Course, Thomas College Goal: integrate research skills, presentation skills, and fundamental math/algebra concepts for students with Math SAT <500 Used Excel, PowerPoint, Moodle, Word Citation, and Internet Explorer in computer cluster classroom Taught basic information literacy, real world skills, used carefully scaffolded assignments that gradually got more challenging & required greater student independence Was so successful that college is now developing a critical thinking/writing/literacy complementary course Key point: consider what kids are most likely to do, or to have to do, and teach how to do that properly to build competence and confidence

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Case Study: Integrating a GenEd Curriculum (Augstana College) Active Learning: a 3-legged stool Experiences—Information/Ideas—Reflection Every GenEd course attaches somehow to the central mission of the college They have a required “senior inquiry” project for ALL students, not just the top 10%, which must relate back to the institutional missions 4 opportunities for explicit student reflection At end of first year seminar When they choose a major (usually soph yr) When they develop their inquiry project (Jr yr) At the end of the senior inquiry They knew the reflection piece was working when students began to joke about it: it was part of campus culture

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Case Study: An “Integrative Studies” Core Curriculum (Otterbein College) Their core curriculum was an artifact of the 1960s, themed on “human nature.” Needed revision, reinventing, updating. Summer reading for freshmen, woven throughout the FY curriculum, developed cohort identity. Senior-year experience OUTSIDE their majors – 2 linked courses (“dyad”) sharing central problematic, field of inquiry or topical focus Have e-portfolio to house artifacts from across years and courses, and as a formal place to collect & archive student reflection

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Case Study: Faculty “Learning Communities” (Fairfield U) Small # of LCs each year, like faculty study groups, aimed at course development and sharing of pedagogies and disciplinary perspectives. Faculty apply in. About 1/3 of faculty participates. Program is now in 3rd year. Initiative of their Center for Academic Excellence. LC faculty moderators are trained at Claremont Summer Institute. Groups meet 2x/month all year long. Set their own agenda & readings. Little hierarchy. Faculty find this energizing. Part of professional development in tenure/promotion consideration. Not “committees with charges,” but open-ended communities of inquiry, in which each faculty member is working on a pedagogical project. They do present WIPs and findings at campus-wide events and to the other LCs Examples: Nursing, Diversity, Spirituality, e-Portfolios, Assessment, Global Citizenship, WiSTEM, Social Justice

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Case Study: Online Capstone Course for “General Studies” major, UConn Needed a “bring it all together” course for learners across 6 campuses. Considers a topic (e.g. “the family”) in interdisciplinary perspective Although lectures are posted, the real “course content” (35% of grade) is the online discussions Integrative Studies = answering a question, addressing a topic, or solving a problem too broad or too complex to be dealt with adequately by one single discipline or profession

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The Interdisciplinary Research Process (UConn General Studies Major) Step One: Draw on Disciplinary insights Define the question & justify why an interdisciplinary approach is needed Identify relevant disciplines Conduct literature search Develop adequacy in each discipline Analyze problem and the insight into it provided by each discipline

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The Interdisciplinary Research Process (UConn General Studies Major) Step Two: Integrate Insights, Produce Interdisciplinary Understanding Identify conflicts between insights and their sources Create or discover common ground Integrate insights Produce and test interdisciplinary understanding of the problem

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Integrating Quantitative Reasoning into Student Writing Across the Curriculum (Carleton College “QUIRK”) QR cannot only be owned by the math dept, all departments must be involved in the effort to foster QR Writing effective arguments (i.e. that use quantitative evidence correctly & accurately) is a skill ALL faculty want to see regardless of discipline QR = “the habit of mind to consider the power and limitations of quantitative evidence in the evaluation, construction and communication of arguments in public, personal and professional life.” We’re not talking calculus here: would rather see “sophisticated reasoning with elementary math more than elementary reasoning with sophisticated math.”

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Integrating Quantitative Reasoning into Student Writing Across the Curriculum (Carleton College “QUIRK”) QR = involves a basic skill set (%, ratio, graphing, probability, stats) QR demands “numeracy” – application of mathematical concepts IN CONTEXT and in different contexts QR involves argument (evaluating & constructing) – we live in a world “awash in numbers” and data matters QR is a habit of mind – not a discipline but a way of thinking

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Integrating Quantitative Reasoning into Student Writing Across the Curriculum (Carleton College “QUIRK”) 10 Foundational QR questions for students What do the numbers show? How representative is that? Compared to what? Is the outcome statistically significant? What’s the effect size? Are the results from a single study, or a literature? What’s the research design? How was the variable operationalized? Who’s in the measurement sample? Controlling for what? Good resource: Jane Miller, Chicago Guide to Writing About Numbers

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Integrating Quantitative Reasoning into Student Writing Across the Curriculum (Carleton College “QUIRK”) Two Uses of QR in Student Papers Central = uses numbers to address a central question, issue or theme Peripheral = needs numbers for useful detail, rich description, to present background, establish frames of reference or why the topic matters – often found in an introduction – and too often the numbers are missing or poorly evidenced, substituted by weasel words like “many” or “growing” *Most of the peripheral examples come from outside the natural sciences, and are found across the general education curriculum

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Conference Takeaways Benefits of IL: Students take charge of their own learning, they “own” their knowledge Rich cross-discipline connections within the college, and potentially in the broader community Needs institution-wide commitment, and some formal structure for students – if you don’t ask them, they won’t automatically do it. Repetition of the process reinforces its benefits – not a one-time shot, but over many courses, settings, and at different developmental points

Summary: Notes from the Innovative Pedagogy and Course Redesign Conference IX at Fairfield University in CT, in June 2009. The conference theme concerned integrated learning.

Tags: integrated learning education fairfield university innovative pedagogy

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