Designing Assignments for Integrative Learning

Pacific-chorus-frog-and-northwestern-salamander.jpg.638x0_q80_crop-smartAs the winter term comes to an end, the LC teams have been designing integrative assignments for their paired courses.  While each individual course still proceeds via its own sequence of learning activities and assignments, at the centre of the paired course endeavour is a shared assignment that is introduced and worked on in both classes.

The integrative assignment should challenge students to make connections between the varying materials of each course; to apply different disciplinary concepts and methodologies to complex issues and problems; to synthesize and evaluate outcomes; and to reflect on the process.  We’ve drawn on several resources to guide the design of these assignments, from the Washington Center’s heuristic Designing Purposeful and Intentional Integrative Learning to Boix Mansilla and Duraising’s Framework for Assessing Integrative Learning.

Each teaching pair now has a tentative idea of their integrative assignments.  Here are their synopses:

Mark Beauchamp (Research Methods) and Geoffrey Pearce (Intro to Geography)

“The course pairing of Research Methods and Introduction to Geography, titled Mapping Stories of Shaughnessy Village, is focused on a cumulative term-long project, which will be integrated at every step of its development. As we explore and learn more about Shaughnessy Village, you and your classmates will each: come up with a research question and proposal for your final projects, conduct secondary source research, record an oral history interview with a resident of the neighborhood, and collect photographs and other primary data sources about your particular research focus. The work done in one class will help you to complete the work in the other. The final class project will result in an online interactive map that contains and displays each of your term-long projects.”

Pat Romano (Humanities) and Kim Simard (Cinema & Communications)

“The major integrative assignment in Imaging Violence and Nonviolence is to develop a creative media (video, web, interactive) project that offers an example of resistance to violence. This project puts its focus on an urgent contemporary problem: why does violence seem so normal and how can we find innovative ways to draw attention to this problem and offer resistance. Your project will be presented to the Dawson Community in a college-wide event at the end of the semester, and possibly be a part of a permanent collection of student work in an ongoing Dawson peace education project, Resist Violence.”

Michael Ducket (History) and Julian Nemeth (History/Humanities)

“Using Tolstoy’s War and Peace as source material, create a guide for the rest of your life. To develop your guide, you will analyze the way that historical context helps shape the ethical choices made by characters in the novel. You will then choose to follow or depart from the examples provided by the characters in the book. In doing so, you will reflect on the circumstances that helped form your own values and determine the kind of life you would like to lead. Your paper will apply historical and ethical concepts discussed in class, but should also reference at least one of the presentations delivered by our guest speakers (solider, refugee, and military scholar). To supplement the written part of your guide, you will also be invited to create an artistic piece inspired by your engagement with War and Peace. These may include drawings, paintings, sculptures, and collages. At the end of the semester, we will have the class choose their favorite examples and hang them up in the Reflections room.”

Susan Briscoe (English) and Anjali Choksi (Humanities)

 Storytelling is fundamental to the creation, keeping, and sharing of Indigenous knowledge. This Journeys integrative storytelling assignment, titled How We Learn,  will have students listen to, read, analyze, and produce Indigenous knowledge through stories. This scaffolded assignment will span the entire term and will include gathering stories about learning from the students’ own elders and families. Ultimately, the students will use these multiple stories to reflect on, analyze, and tell their own stories about learning in the medium of their choice. These stories will be shared with the broader community.