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Integrative Learning

Puzzle piecesAn undergraduate's university experience is often fragmented, with courses, service opportunities, and extra curricular activities seemingly unconnected to one another. Providing students with the means to integrate their learning can be a challenge for university educators. Promoting an integrative learning approach, however, can assist students in putting the pieces of the university experience into a coherent whole that prepares them for their personal, professional, and civic life. Learning takes place in individual courses and disciplines, but integrative learning transcends academic boundaries, and encourages students to address real-world problems, to synthesize multiple areas of knowledge, and to consider issues from a variety of perspectives.

Tools and strategies commonly associated with Integrative Learning include ePortfolios, Experiential Learning, High Impact Practices, and Assessment. Learn more about each of these by clicking the relevant links. 


Recognizing Knowledge and Skills in a Digital Age. A Keynote presentation on micro-credentialling by Don Presant 

Integrative and Experiential Education Series. A series of seminars devoted to strategies for fostering experiential learning.

Interviews with Waterloo instructors and students:

Nancy Vanden Bosch. Nancy discusses the Integrative Learning Sequence developed by the School of Accounting and Finance.

Shannon Hartling. Shannon discusses the role of the Speech Communication course in the Integrative Learning Sequence. 

Anson Lee. Anson talks about his experience as a student of the Integrative Learning Sequence. 

Josephine McMurray. Josephine explains how she used concept maps to help her students integrate their learning. 

Veronica Kitchen explains how she uses simulations in her courses to replicate real-life situations. 

"Learning that helps develop integrative capacities is important because it develops habits of mind that prepare students to make informed judgments in the conduct of personal, professional, and civic life. [But] even when higher education has identified such learning as a goal, it has been difficult to incorporate into the undergraduate experience because the normal structures of academic life encourage students to see their courses simply as isolated requirements."  -- Integrative Learning: Mapping the Terrain.

External resources

Journal articles and conference presentations