The Integrative Learning Project

Integrative Learning: Opportunities to Connect is a national project sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Aimed at promoting integrative learning in undergraduate education, this three-year project worked with ten campuses to develop and assess advanced models and strategies to foster students' abilities to integrate their learning over time.

A Call for Campus Participants

In the summer of 2003, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) issued a call for campus participation in a new national project to investigate and promote integrative learning in undergraduate education. Designed to strengthen programs that foster integration, this project sought to work with campuses that, having already made significant progress, wished to take the next steps to enhance integrative learning strategies. Campuses of any type—two or four-year—were invited to apply.

While only ten campuses could be selected for this three-year effort, the pool of 139 applications revealed widespread progress and significant challenges in meeting integrative learning goals. Helping students connect skills and knowledge within and across their academic and nonacademic experiences is a priority on many campuses, and a survey of the proposed projects provides a window into the state of integrative learning nationwide at that time.

pdf Application

pdf "Integrative Learning Nationwide: Emerging Themes and Practices". DeZure, Babb, and Waldmann, 2005.


Association of American Colleges and Universities

AAC&U is the leading national association devoted to advancing and strengthening liberal learning for all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Since its founding in 1915, AAC&U's membership has grown to more than 1000 accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size. AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education at both the national and local levels and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

link Link to AAC&U Website

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an Act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center whose charge is "to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold, and dignify the profession of the teacher and the cause of higher education."

link Link to Carnegie Website

Project Staff

Mary Taylor Huber, senior scholar, Carnegie Foundation, project co-director

Andrea Leskes, former Vice President for Education and Quality Initiatives, AAC&U, former project co-director

Cheryl Brown, research assistant, Carnegie Foundation

Richard Gale, senior scholar, Carnegie Foundation

Pat Hutchings, vice president, Carnegie Foundation

Ross Miller, director of programs, Office of Quality, Curriculum, and Assessment, AAC&U

Marcia Babb, former program associate, Carnegie Foundation

Molly Breen, program associate, Carnegie Foundation

Laura Ostenso, former administrative assistant, Carnegie Foundation

Gretchen Sauvey, administrative assistant, Office of Quality, Curriculum and Assessment, AAC&U

We were also pleased to welcome Deborah DeZure, visiting scholar at AAC&U, to several convenings.

ILP Campus Projects

Carleton College (Northfield, MN) is studying how it collectively integrates important literacies into a student's education. The goals are to implement a plan to discover and articulate how faculty are defining and teaching transferable, cross-cutting skills and literacies and to free faculty from the notion that they are singularly responsible for a student's education. Carleton will use its experiences with the required sophomore writing portfolio and senior capstone projects to provide checks and guideposts for all of the literacies identified.

College of San Mateo (San Mateo, CA) is measurably expanding its learning communities program to promote "shared knowledge" and "shared knowing" among students and faculty, thus providing an overarching academic success strategy for its fragmented and transient community college population.

LaGuardia Community College CUNY (Long Island City, NY) is using electronic student portfolios that link to first-year initiatives and a college-wide assessment plan in order to investigate the integration of learning across classes, the role of digital tools in this process, and the impact of such a project at an urban community college with a student body overwhelmingly immigrant, female, and economically disadvantaged.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (North Adams, MA) is developing objectives, assessment methods, and courses for the upper-level integrated capstone course in its developmental core curriculum. MCLA will add the third level of capstones to tiers already in place, and build a multimodal system of assessing student achievement.

Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI) is addressing the study abroad option for earning required credits in integrative studies. The project will connect the integrative studies and global competencies outcomes, create criteria for study abroad options that are likely to meet those outcomes, and develop an assessment protocol for measuring study abroad.

Philadelphia University (Philadelphia, PA) is promoting student integrative learning that connects its professional programs with its liberal education core by expanding the involvement of faculty from the professional majors in the general education program, creating a forum for university-wide planning for liberal-professional integration, and making curricular connections more transparent and intentional for students.

Portland State University (Portland, OR) is implementing a revision of the middle portion of the interdisciplinary general education program, University Studies, which includes designing new courses and assessing the revised program, primarily using electronic student portfolios.

Salve Regina University (Newport, RI) is developing a senior capstone experience that both integrates liberal learning and links that learning to specialized study in the major, as well as an integrative learning portfolio that assesses student progress over four years of study.

State University of New York at Oswego (Oswego, NY) is modifying a first-year program, integrative interdisciplinary general education requirement, and capstone to create a core curriculum with a focus on developmentally appropriate integrative skills. Prior to this consultative program revision, it is conducting a qualitative assessment to define and develop rubrics for integrative skills.

University of Charleston (Charleston, WV) is focusing on enhancing and celebrating integrated learning assignments that are aligned with program and liberal learning outcomes in order to demonstrate growth rates equal to or exceeding the current ones.

Project Convenings

During each of the ILP's three years (2004-2006), participating campuses sent small teams (two to five members) to a one-day pre-conference workshop at AAC&U's annual meeting in January, and to a three and a half-day summer institute in July at the Carnegie Foundation in Stanford, California. In addition to the project's official meetings, AAC&U's Network for Academic Renewal sponsored a conference on Integrative Learning in October, 2005. Several of the participating institutions held special events on their campuses as well.

ILP Activities

The main activities of the Integrative Learning Project were the projects pursued by the ten participating campus teams and their colleagues at their own institutions. Planning for, reflecting on, and discussing these efforts--their contexts, progress, and setbacks--became, in effect, the main activity of the project's six official convenings. These convenings provided the campus teams time and space to share ideas and seek feedback from other campuses working towards similar goals. Meanwhile, staff from AAC&U and Carnegie worked together and with campus team members to refine ideas, publish articles, and prepare other public presentations of the project's work.

Workshops, Presentations, and Guest Speakers

The ILP's official convenings also provided an opportunity for presentations and workshops on a variety of topics important to integrative learning. One of our signature activities was to examine assignments aimed at encouraging and assessing students' growth in integrative learning and to look at samples of student work. (See, for example, the instructions for the 2005 Summer Institute's Assignment Laboratory). Other recurrent themes included curriculum, assessment, pedagogy, reflection, faculty development, and campus change.

We were joined at all ILP convenings by Carol Schneider, president of the AAC&U and/or by Lee Shulman, president of The Carnegie Foundation. In addition, several guest speakers were invited to share their expertise, including:

link Peggy Maki, Assessment, July, 2004

Lee Knefelkamp and Jayne Brownell, Student Development, January 2005

link Lloyd Bond, Assessment, July, 2005

link Veronica Boix-Mansilla, Assessment of Interdisciplinary Learning, January, 2006

pdf Lee Knefelkamp


Knowledge-building was a key commitment for the ILP staff and participating campus teams. Too often, good work on curriculum, assessment, pedagogy, and faculty development remains with its creators and is unavailable for others to consult, review, and build on. Campus projects were designed for broad impact, and campus teams committed to sharing their efforts publicly, both at home and within the larger academic community.

In addition to presenting work at a variety of campus and conference forums over the project's three years, the staff and participating campus team members have produced several publications based on ILP work.

This web-based report is the project's major publication, and should be cited as:

"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, January 2007.

Other publications include:

pdf A Statement on Integrative Learning, developed jointly by the Association of American Colleges and University and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2004.

pdf Integrative Learning: Mapping the Terrain, by Mary Taylor Huber and Pat Hutchings. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2004.

link Building Pedagogical Intelligence, by Pat Hutchings. Perspectives. Stanford, CA: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, January 2005.

link Peer Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, Spring 2005 (Special Issue on Integrative Learning)

link Although not an official publication of the Integrative Learning Project, AAC&U's report, Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College (2002), explores the idea of "intentional learning" that was central to the vision of "integrative learning" developed through the Integrative Learning Project.