IE Framing Definitions of Reflection and Integration

IE Criterion 1: Provide a structured, credited context for students to reflect on and to integrate their learning experience from General Education courses and their major.

Integrative Learning

Integrative learning comes in many varieties: connecting skills and knowledge from multiple sources and experiences; applying theory to practice in various settings; utilizing diverse and even contradictory points of view; and, understanding issues and positions contextually. 

(Statement on Integrative Learning, Association for American Colleges and Universities & the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, March 2004)

The skill of integrative thinking takes practice and focused attention. We know that current research into the process of learning highlights the challenge that novice learners face in making connections among seemingly disparate sets of information and experiences. Students require structured learning experiences to become integrative thinkers. They need multiple opportunities to draw on their previous learning, apply previous and new knowledge and skills to increasingly complex problems and discipline-based settings, and reflect upon how the various components of their education can help shape their future engagement in professional, civic, interpersonal, and intellectual activities. 


"Reflection" within the context of the General Education Integrative Experience has a particular meaning, one that may be distinct from how you and your colleagues usually think about student reflection in your classes. In virtually all courses, students are asked to reflect upon the course content (e.g., students are asked to consider "How would I apply this theory I just learned to this new situation?"; "How do I interpret and analyze this character's actions within the context of the novel?"; "Which of the formulas is most appropriate for the question?", etc.). In these cases, students' reflection is focused exclusively on course content, based on how they will apply that content to an assignment, task, etc. 

For the Integrative Experience requirement, however, students are also expected to engage in self-reflection on themselves as learners. For example, the Integrative Experience asks that students consider their college learning as a whole and identify how their varied experiences connect with each other and help shape the student as a lifelong learner, a member of a profession or disciplinary community, and/or as a citizen and member of the larger society. This focus upon self-reflection as a learner gives students structured opportunities to synthesize the various aspects of their college education and to consider how their experiences inform their work in their major, their career/graduate school preparation, and their role as global citizens. 

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