IE QQ Review Results Fall 2019
The General Education Council recently completed the Quinquennial (QQ) Review process for all departments’ Integrative Experience (IE) offerings. The focus of the IE QQ Review process was adapted from the Council’s more traditional course-based QQ review to meet the particular structure and purpose of the IE. Serving as both a General Education and Major requirement, the IE is intended to meet the objectives of both the General Education program and the Major. As such, the review process focused on departmental offerings as a whole, considering all options offered within the department and focusing on both departmental IE alignment and consistency.
The IE QQ review process represents the first time since departments initially developed their IE options that they have been given any feedback on their IE options, or provided direct and individualized guidance on how to ensure their offering(s) align with the IE Criteria. This review process exposed variations across departments, providing the GEC and, ultimately, the wider campus community with a number of insights into the strengths of the current IE program. The review also helps the GEC better understand the particular challenges of teaching to the IE, providing helpful insights into what kinds of clarification, intervention, and teaching resources departments need to be successful moving forward.
Summary of Successes and Challenges in Teaching to the IE
- Effectiveness in Meeting All Criteria: Numerous Exemplary IEs to Learn From: Throughout the process, reviewers identified a number of syllabi and assignments that might serve as exemplary models to help departments enhance their IE efforts. A number of these syllabi and assignments are available here, and demonstrate the good work that is being done by departments and individual instructors to fulfill the goals of the IE.
- Effectiveness in Meeting Criteria 2 and 3: Most departments had little to no trouble in demonstrating that their IE offerings address Criterion 2, practicing Gen Ed objectives at an advanced level, and Criterion 3, providing a shared learning experience to apply prior learning to new situations, challenging questions, and real-world problems.
- Challenges in Addressing Criterion 1: Reflection and Integration: The most common challenge for departments was in addressing Criterion 1: Students will reflect on and integrate their learning and experiences from the broad exposure in their general education courses and the focus on their major. For example, 37 out of 50 departments were rated “minimally meets” or “does not meet” for Criterion 1: Reflection and Integration. These challenges can be further broken down into several categories, which include:
- Defining Reflection: A focus beyond the major: In several instances, reflection was incorporated in either the syllabus or form responses, but it was focused only on reflection on the major experience or overall course content. While Criterion 1 leaves space for reflection on the major, the focus is for students to be given a “structured, credited context […] to reflect on and to integrate their learning and experience from the broad exposure in their General Education courses.” It is important for IE courses to give students an opportunity, whether through a single or multiple assignments and activities, to reflect on their prior General Education experience and to then move these reflections into integration within the course.
- Integration v. Interdisciplinarity: Although less frequent, and often in conjunction with some of the other patterns, some departments said that because a particular major or department drew from different disciplines (interdisciplinarity) that this also meant integration would occur. In other words, there was a conflation of interdisciplinarity and integration, leading to students not having the “structured, credited context” for integrating Gen Ed and the major as needed for Criterion 1.
- Challenges in Making Sure Major Capstones also Meet IE Criteria: When the IE first started, many departments revised an already existing capstone course to serve as the IE requirement for majors. While some were able to do this in alignment with the IE objectives, there are some IE courses that are very strong major-based capstones, but they do not incorporate the core IE Criteria (especially Criterion 1, reflection and integration). Because of this, in considering the feedback and resources for departments, we were careful to select exemplary syllabi and assignments that highlight how to re-purpose these capstone courses.
- Challenges with Showing versus Telling (in a syllabus): Another pattern the subcommittee identified was the need for departments to more clearly articulate how students would achieve particular outcomes/objectives. In some cases, departments assert that they have students “reflect” but there is no example or description of the assignment or activity used to foster that reflection. This challenge is something the GEC found during the Diversity expedited review process as well. With our provided resources and feedback, we aim to show departments and faculty how they can be explicit and transparent about how students will achieve all IE learning objectives in their course. This focus on specificity is not just important for the IE QQ review, but is also important for students, helping them understand not only the learning objectives of the IE, but also how their IE course helps them practice those objectives.
- Implied or Assumed Reflection + Integration: In some instances, there was an assumption that students would reflect on and/or integrate their previous General Education experiences, without students being given any explicit or guaranteed opportunity to do so. In some cases, it could be that there is an opportunity, but that it is not clearly articulated; while in others, it could be that there is no “structured, credited context” for reflection and integration in the course.
IE QQ Review Purpose & Process
The Integrative Experience (IE) was put into place six years ago, and the Gen Ed Council is conducting an IE QQ Review Process to determine the current status of the requirement. This includes gathering information about the range of IE options available and the extent to which those options align with the requirements of the Integrative Experience (as outlined below).
The IE serves as both a General Education and a Major requirement and is intended to meet both the objectives of the General Education program and the Major. As a result, the department and the General Education Council share responsibility for assuring the departmental IE offerings meet both departmental and IE goals, and maintain consistency across departmental IE options. Therefore, this IE QQ Process focuses on departmental offerings as a whole, considering all options offered within the department and focusing on department IE alignment and consistency.
Note: Throughout the document, we use IE course to reference all types of IE instructional options.
IE Learning Goals and Structural Requirements
Learning Goals: The upper-division IE provides a structured context for students to reflect on their own learning and explore the connections between the broad exposure provided by General Education and the more focused exposure of their major. The IE addresses the goals by fulfilling each of the following three criteria:
- Providing a structured, credited context for students to reflect on and to integrate their learning and experience from the broad exposure in their General Education courses and the focus in their major.
- Providing students with the opportunity to practice General Education learning objectives such as oral communication, collaboration, critical thinking and interdisciplinary perspective-taking, at a more advanced level.
- Offering students a shared learning experience for applying their prior learning to new situations, challenging questions, and real-world problems.
Departmental IE options are expected to meet both these General Education goals and the department-identified goals for individual programs.
Course Structure: The IE is intended to provide students with the opportunity for a personalized and interactive setting in which they engage in the ways described by the 3 IE criteria. Therefore, it is expected that IE's will have the following characteristics:
A. The primary instructor for all IE courses must be a tenure-system faculty member or lecturer qualified to teach upper division courses and should provide at least 3 upper-division credits.
B. They will be faculty led, as in the case of other upper division courses in the major. The instructional role of the TA will be secondary to that of the faculty. In cases of multiple sections that are TA facilitated, the instructional, supervisory, and/or training role of the primary faculty needs to be clarified.
C. They should include small group interactions, such as collaborative assignments or projects.
All IE QQ Reviews will be submitted through an online form. Here is a .doc version of the IE QQ Review online submission form for your reference. NOTE: This form is for departmental planning, discussion, and drafting purposes only; the IE QQ departmental response must be submitted via the online form. Please direct any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.