CARNEGIE AND AAC&U RELEASE REPORT TO STRENGTHEN STUDENT LEARNING

Forwarded by Dirk Morrison:

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Association of American Colleges and Universities today released an online report, “Integrative Learning: Opportunities to Connect,” the result of a three-year national project involving 10 campuses working together to encourage and strengthen students’ ability to pursue learning in more intentional, connected ways.

“The undergraduate experience is often a fragmented landscape of general education, concentration, electives, co-curricular activities, and for many students ‘the real world’ beyond campus,” said Mary Huber, a senior scholar with the Carnegie Foundation who co-directed the project. “An emphasis on integrated learning can help undergraduates find ways to put the pieces together and develop habits of mind that will prepare them to make informed judgments in the conduct of personal, professional and civic life,” she added.

Ross Miller, AAC&U’s director of programs and the other co-director, notes that students must be active agents in connecting their own learning, but that their success depends on commitment and creativity from professors, staff and administration. “Many colleges and universities have established opportunities for connected learning through first-year seminars, learning communities, interdisciplinary studies programs, capstone experiences, advising and other initiatives, but fewer institutions make an institutional commitment to integrative learning for all students,” he said.

However, the 10 campuses featured in this report have designed and assessed advanced models to help more students develop their abilities to integrate learning across contexts and over time.

A statement from the two sponsoring organizations outlines what is needed: students need courses designed by creative faculty that model and build integrative skills, and curricula that define pathways that encourage integrative learning within and across fields. “Wider collaboration between academic and non-academic staff, college and community, four-year and two-year institutions, higher education and K-12 will create further opportunities for integrative learning throughout students’ educational careers,” the authors write.

The report concludes that collaborative efforts at the campus, program and departmental levels are needed both to institute new practices where necessary, and to ensure that programs already in place reinforce and build on one another.
The report authors said that the experience of campuses participating in the integrative learning project suggest that leaders of campus initiatives to strengthen integrative learning should do their best to make integrative learning a campus-wide concern; design initiatives strategically; support faculty creatively; make a commitment to knowledge-building; recognize the institutionalization is a long-term process; and build networks beyond campus for collaboration and exchange.

The two organizations produced the report as a resource for campuses interested in strengthening opportunities for integrative learning. In addition to multimedia accounts of work by each of the 10 campuses, the report contains essays by project staff on various strategies for fostering integrative learning, video clips from Carnegie President Lee S. Shulman and AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider, and lessons for campus change.

To access the report and see a list of participating schools, go to:
http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/elibrary/integrativelearning/

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