Exploring USC Connect
Learn more about USC Connect and what you can do
Faculty Leadership Grant recipients share their work at a panel presentation at the Center for Teaching Excellence. Includes Karen Mallia (Journalism), Mary Hjelm (English), Darcy Freedman (Social Work), Jim Barilla (English), Lauren Sklaroff (History), Laura Woliver (Political Science and Women's Studies), and Leah McClimans (Philosophy, not pictured). Faculty projects included many examples of integrative learning and applying learning to leadership.
Whether new or experienced in facilitating integrative learning, consider trying one new approach to working with students next fall:
- Try a new in-class activity to engage students in sharing ideas on how course concepts relate to life experiences.
- Investigate beyond-the-classroom experiences to support student learning in your discipline.
- Require students reflect on how beyond the classroom experiences relate to course content in an assignment.
Where to Begin
See these faculty resources:
- In-class activities
- USC Connect searchable database of experiences
- Sample syllabi and assignments
- User-friendly guide to reflection (2 pp. PDF)
Do you have activities, assignments, or syllabi we could share to help others? Contact us.
View Social Work senior Chelsea Allen's portfolio to see how she integrated learning across courses, alternative spring break, field work, research, and public policy leadership.
Students demonstrate integrative learning when they articulate how their beyond the classroom experiences relate to major theories and principles in their field and/or apply their learning to create solutions in new situations. We measure student success by evaluating student work, reflections, and creations.
Where to Begin
As you consider beyond the classroom experiences that would be beneficial to your students and engage students in a variety of experiences, consider how students will demonstrate what they have learned (e.g., that they can connect experiences to course/program concepts). This could be through papers, e-portfolio, application to solving problems, or other assignments. Then consider how you will assess this student work.
See a 10-step planning and assessment guide.
See a sample rubric for assessing e-portfolios.
Students talk about e-portfolios
Students describe the value of e-portfolios at the USC Connect Forum on March 6th, 2013. Features Brewer Eberly (senior), Davontae Singleton (sophomore), and Jordan Goff (first-year).
Integrative learning in higher education encompasses integration “across courses, over time, and between campus community life.”
This includes connections across subject areas and analysis of how beyond-the-classroom experiences inform principles studied in class.
Where to Begin
E-portfolios are an organized, electronic collection of work (e.g. photos, videos, documents) with a description of how materials demonstrate learning or progress toward meeting academic, professional, or personal goals.
- E-portfolios for starters (a 3 minute animation)
- Resources to learn more about doing an e-portfolio at USC
- An Overview of E-portfolios (From Educause Learning Initiative: Advanced Learning through IT Innovation)
William Newell (2010) on interdisciplinary and integrative learning:
I have long felt that the best undergraduate education asks students to go back and forth between disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses, since interdisciplinary courses need the disciplines for depth and disciplinary courses need interdisciplinarity for real-world applicability (Newell 1983).
It is only recently, however, that I have come to realize that students also need to shuttle back and forth between the classroom and the outside world. This is not for financial reasons . . . but because integrative learning subjects theory to the reality check of human experience [emphasis added]… Read the full article
Hear what students and faculty had to say about “reflection” at the USC Connect Forum on e-portfolios, March 6th, 2013. These brief clips feature students Charlotte Wertz, Brewer Eberly, and Chloe Lilliard and faculty members Sara Corwin and Cara Montgomery.
Integrative learning requires in-depth reflection. This means going beyond reactions and opinions to making substantive connections. Meaningful reflection requires guidance, practice, and feedback.
Where to Begin
See a 2-page, user-friendly guide on reflection that provides students with a framework, example, and key words and phrases.
Integrative learning can be described in many ways, but for USC Connect integrative learning is defined as
- the construction of knowledge across within- and beyond- the classroom experiences, and
- the ability to apply new understandings from within & beyond the classroom experiences to solve problems in new contexts.
Where to Begin
See the new USC Connect webpages on integrative learning. Includes definitions, articles, sample syllabi and assignments, and in-class activities. Bookmark these pages as helpful resources you can return to when you begin planning summer or fall classes.
Faculty and Student Perspectives on Integrative Learning
Hear faculty and students who have been involved with integrative learning in relation to Global Study, Internships, and Research describe how it has been important to them.
Features: Scott Farrand, Instructor, Journalism and Mass Communications; Christian Buckson, Student, History and International Studies; Jaime Chason, Student, Art Education, and Sandy Strick, Associate Professor, Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management.
Beyond-the-classroom experiences in USC Connect are educationally purposeful experiences
- on- or off-campus (e.g., cultural performances, council meetings),
- required as part of a class/program (e.g, internships, service learning, research) OR
- student-selected (e.g., student organizations, residence hall governance, study abroad).
Where to Begin
Many faculty have asked for clarification on what USC Connect means by “beyond-the-classroom” experiences. See a chart of positive and negative exemplars (includes a definition with footnotes on some of the finer points that have been raised).
Check out our webpage on within and beyond the classroom experiences.
Questions or comments? Please contact us.
USC Connect encourages student participation in a variety of beyond the classroom experiences, but focuses on 5 pathways research has shown to positively impact student success:
Community Service, Global Study, Internships, Peer Leadership, and Research.
Hear how an experience in the global study pathway impacted Jordan Goff's plan for her future.
Pathways are broadly defined to encompass perspectives of all disciplines.
Where to Begin
Want to connect your students with community service, global study, or internships?
Need students to help with a research project?
Want support in advising a student organization or encouraging students interested in your field to get involved?
Contact a pathways' office to learn more.
- Collaboration within & across programs
- Integrative learning grants & co-horts
- Recognition through publications, as faculty fellows, or through annual review
- Teaching, course, and program development support from CTE and USC Connect
Professor Gail Barnes expanded the horizons of USC Connect strings students through an integrative learning grant. Learn more about a new round of faculty grants.
Apply for a grant by April 19.
History Professor Valinda Littlefield Connects Students with the Community to Enhance Learning
USC Connect asks faculty to:
- Fully consider and recommend high impact pathways (community service, global study, internships, peer leadership, research) for their students, and
- Ensure opportunities for students to reflect in sophisticated ways across experiences and over time.
Where to Begin
What beyond the classroom experiences would support your students in developing deep understanding related to their major? Need ideas? Search our database.
See a sample list of program recommendations for students:
Hear students’ views on e-portfolios and learn about the proposal for Graduation with Leadership Distinction through our March Forum.
Physics Day at the State Fair
Theory and research support the critical role of integrative learning (i.e., USC Connect) in educating students in the 21st century.
Students are the focus and faculty are key to facilitating student learning and success.
Check out course examples:
- Syllabus MSCI 460 (PDF)
- Syllabus PUBH 498 (PDF)
- Syllabus SOWK 484 (PDF)
- Research Project BIOL302 Lab (PDF)
Materials are shared with permission. Highlighting added by USC Connect.
Do YOU have an example of integrative learning in your course? Tell us about it or send us your assignment description, syllabus, or other materials that you would be willing to share.
Jessica Bunting presents at Discovery Day 2012. Read about Jessica's experience and what she learned.
USC Connect builds on the foundation of the Carolina Core and supports students in making learning connections over time and across disciplines and experiences. USC Connect encourages students to apply Core knowledge and skills to complex problem solving in coursework and beyond (e.g., Discovery Day).
Discovery Day helps students make in-depth connections as they describe their research, community service, internships, and more. Support materials and prep sessions are provided.
Dr. Lara Lomicka Anderson on helping students learn through global study
Students need support in analyzing how experiences relate to their studies and the "bigger picture". Research shows students integrate learning when they are asked to articulate connections, share and question one another's ideas, and receive specific feedback.
Read more about Integrative Learning and USC Connect (PDF)
USC Connect builds on USC’s strengths, moving us beyond offering great opportunities for students to connecting experiences in meaningful ways.
Provost Michael Amiridis on USC Connect
USC Connect emphasizes communication across units and a shared focus on integrative learning, a proven strategy to increase and deepen student learning.
What do you recommend for YOUR students? Complete this form — we’ll help you get the information out!
Hear how David Miller helps his students integrate learning
USC Connect's two specific goals are for all students to:
- participate in purposeful beyond the classroom experiences AND
- deepen and apply their learning by making connections between within- and beyond-the-classroom experiences.
Questions about USC Connect? Learn more.
See our resources page for Faculty and Staff for more about USC Connect, Integrative Learning, and how to help student engage in Beyond the Classroom opportunities.
Please contact us with any questions or comments:
Thomas Cooper Library, Suite L132
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208