Curriculum Integration

One-Page Introduction

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A one-page introduction briefly summarizes research that indicates that helping students build links between topics may improve retention and understanding. The one-page introduction also includes examples of curriculum integration across the Foundation Coalition.

Learning Communities

Integrated curricula in which students take clusters of related courses are one approach to building learning communities. A one-page introduction describes learning communities across the Foundation Coalition.

Curriculum Integration Examples

Examples of of learning activities that are intended to help students build links between disciplines are also listed below.

Integrated Examination Questions

  • You can find examples and other ideas that you could use in your class. For example, the integrated examination questions page provides examples of example questions that integrate mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering.


  • Curriculum Integration: Why and How


Summary of First-year Integrated Engineering Curricula

  • The summary includes both a table and an annotated bibliography. The table provides an overview of first-year integrated curricula. The annonated bibliography provides information and pointers to research and development efforts.

What is curriculum integration?

There are many different ideas about what constitutes curriculum integration. For example, Brazee and Capelluti write that curriculum integration is "based on a holistic view of learning and recognizes the necessity for learners to see the big picture rather than to require learning to be divided into small pieces. Integrative curriculum ignore traditional subject lines while exploring questions that are most relevant to students." [1] In a Foundation Coalition workshop "Curriculum Integration: Why and How," the following definitions are offered.

  • Strong Version: In its stronger version, curriculum integration is a pedagogical approach to help students build a small set of powerful, broadly applicable concepts/abilities/skills instead of a large set of weak, narrowly applicable concepts/abilities/skills
  • Weak Version: In its weaker version, curriculum integration is a pedagogical approach to help students build connections across disciplines

The Foundation Coalition is creating resources that will assist faculty members at other institutions in applying curriculum integration to improve student learning. These resources include

  • A one-page introduction that provides examples of curriculum integration across the Foundation Coalition.
  • A one-page introduction describes learning communities across the Foundation Coalition.
  • Integrated examination questions: FC faculty members have collected questions used on their integrated exams.
  • Workshops that campuses can host. The length of each workshop varies between 2 hours and 2 days depending on the material to be presented and the desired degree of interactivity
  • Summary of first-year integrated engineering curricula. Collecting information on first-year integrated engineering curricula in a single location will facilitate future development efforts.

Web Resources on Curriculum Integration in Engineering Education
A Framework for Interpreting Students' Perceptions of an Integrated Curriculum by Ann McKenna, Flora McMartin, Youki Terada, Vanravi Sirivedhin, Alice Agogino Undergraduate engineering reform efforts to better integrate math, science and engineering courses have recently been conducted at the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1998, faculty from the mathematics, physics, and engineering departments at Berkeley have collaborated to restructure first year and lower division courses. Several changes were made to specific courses to improve students' integrative understanding of calculus and the physical sciences, and to emphasize applications to engineering. Various data have been collected to investigate the impact the reforms had on student learning, as well as to gain insight into students' experiences during their undergraduate engineering career. Interviews were conducted with engineering students and faculty to garner feedback about integration efforts and students perceptions of the curriculum. This paper describes the interview project and outlines the interpretive framework we established for the analysis of the interview data. Initial analysis suggests that students have difficulty understanding lower division math and physics courses because of the following reasons; 1) the pedagogical approach is inadequate for properly integrating and reinforcing the material, and 2) student perceptions and beliefs about the disciplines conflict with the goals of integration.

The University of Alabama - College of Engineering TIDE Freshman Program (Teaming, Integration, Design, Engineering) TIDE is a freshman program offered for engineering and computer science students. Students participating in TIDE will work side-by-side with other students, teaching assistants and faculty to learn five core subjects: Chemistry, Engineering, English, Mathematics, and Physics.

The University of Wisconsin Madison - College of Engineering LINKS Freshman Program

Foundation Coalition Publications

Resources on Interesting Integration Examples

Example #1: Bianconi and Barabási demonstrated that, under fairly general assumptions, the growth of scale-free networks and development of Bose-Einstein condensates are governed by the same mathematical relationships.

Publications for Further Reference

  1. Brazee, E.N. and Capelluti, J. (1995). Dissolving boundaries: Toward an integrative curriculum. National Middle States Association. Columbus OH.