One of the President’s Four Tools of Clusters is an integrated capstone experience for all students. PSU’s Integration Connection (INCO) course was originally designed to be a capstone course for the General Education program but over the years, we have not used it in this way. The idea to return to our original intention for the INCO was voted on and approved by the faculty last year. So we created a group of faculty fellows to design, implement, and teach an experimental version of the course, which we are calling the Integrated Capstone (INCAP) course in this pilot. The INCAP Fellows began in August to develop a common syllabus for the course and we will teach the pilot sections in Spring 2019. There are currently 9 INCAP Fellows and, therefore, there will be 9 sections of the course this Spring.
The INCAP course is called Signature Project, using the word “signature” in the way that AAC&U uses it in “signature work.” Students take the course as juniors or seniors when they have completed the majority of their General Education program. Each section of the course will focus on a different issue and students will engage in the development of a project that addresses the issue. A signature project:
- Is transdisciplinary: The project integrates knowledge from multiple disciplines and sources to create something new that could not be created without all of them.
- Is completed collaboratively: The project is large and complex enough that it requires input and work from more than one person to be successful.
- Is student-driven: While faculty, staff, and community partners provide guidance and coaching, student agency and independence move the project forward.
- Requires metacognitive reflection: Students reflect on what and how they learn and how their learned knowledge, skills, and dispositions might be transferable to other contexts.
- Reaches beyond the walls of the classroom: The work of the project touches the world outside the classroom in some way.
- Has an external audience for project results: The results of the project are presented to someone who is outside of the class.
- Is completed ethically and respectfully: Work on the project engages internal/external audiences and/or partners with mutual benefit.
Students who take one of the 9 sections of the course will receive credit for their INCO requirement but the idea is that an INCAP requirement will eventually replace INCO within the Gen Ed program.
The topics of the 9 sections of the class are varied and interesting. For example, one section is called Designing Online and Face-to-Face Experiences for Incoming PSU Students. The students will be focused on learning about experience design and then applying that knowledge to open house, orientation, and registration experiences for new students at PSU. Another section is called One Small Step: Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing. The section description says that students will learn about the moon landing and then “they will use what they have learned to create and share/implement (in small groups, with guidance and support) public “signature work,” which might include commemorative materials, events, products, displays, educational materials/resources, projects, etc., across any number of disciplines and for audiences/participants beyond the classroom, in the wider university, and even in the broader community and region.” Three additional sections of the course will focus on various aspects of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These three sections will meet together for one hour a week to share what they’ve learned about the goals with each other.
You will soon be able to see all of the section descriptions on our new web page listing integrated cluster experiences. This page gathers in one place all of the new, different, and interesting experiences students can have in new classes at PSU. I strongly urge advisors to tell students about these experiences so that they can register for them for the Spring.
Image Credit: In the public domain (CC0) at https://pxhere.com/en/photo/925864