Integrated Curriculum and the Learning Experience
Updated: Jan 7
One of the main objectives of a college program is to prepare graduates for a successful and productive career within their field of study. Graduates will enter the workforce and ideally will apply the knowledge and skill sets developed through their studies, providing value to their employers. The workplace will be an integrated environment of various disciplines, roles and responsibilities much different from the single subject focus of a typical lecture-based college classroom.
College programs that support integrated curriculum designs focus on preparing students for the interrelationships between relevant vocational applications. Faculty collaborate to ensure students understand how the learning outcomes between all courses within their fields of study have a synergistic relationship that support successful performance within practical vocational applications.
Some academic instructional design elements that embrace an integrated approach to curriculum may include…
Establishing shared evaluations that are assessed by each faculty from the perspective of the performance outcomes required by students within each of their courses. (This permits students to understand the interdependence and importance of all components of their studies and their reliance on each other within a common application.)
Capstone projects as a culminating activity providing insights to a student’s ability to integrate their knowledge and skills into a practical application. (Simulating a real-world situation preparing students for their entry to the workplace.)
University of Buffalo – UBNow: Capstone Projects
Experiential learning within programs of study through cooperative education, work-integrated-learning, practicums, and workplace simulations are further examples of educational models that support integrated curriculum providing students an opportunity to demonstrate important practical applications of learning.
University of Waterloo - Centre for Teaching Excellence: Experiential Learning
The increased focus on innovative curriculum and instructional design that provides practical applications related to workplace performance is becoming an expectation of a post-secondary experience, not only by students seeking a quality education, but by governments placing metrics related to funding on these elements for public institutions.
CBC – Government Funding of Colleges & Universities
OUSA – Experiential Learning
As the post-secondary educational marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, especially for the domestic market. Providing value-added programs and enhanced learning environments through integrated curriculum designs will contribute to an institution’s competitive advantage, and ultimately their ability to attract, enroll and graduate sufficient numbers of job-ready students to remain relevant, as well as financially viable.