Integrated Learning Frameworks

Integrated Learning Frameworks inform teaching and learning practices. Included in this is the concept of applied learning, which is an approach that emphasizes the relevance of course material to situations and conditions external to the classroom or “real world.” Additional resources on learning frameworks are provided below.

Related Articles and Books

AAC&U News. (2012, August). Liberal arts work!—A model for applied learning at Eastern Connecticut State University. Retrieved from: Source

Eastern Connecticut State University is featured for its work with applied learning in its Liberal Arts program.


Booth, A. (2011). ‘Wide-awake learning’: Integrative learning and humanities education. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 10(1), 47-65. doi:10.1177/1474022210388399.

Dr. Alan Booth of the University of Nottingham argues for the inclusion of integrative learning in the teaching of humanities in UK universities to add depth, breadth, linkages across divisions, and rich learning experiences as preparation for future endeavors.


Downing, J., & Herrington, J. (2013). Design principles for applied learning in higher education: A pedagogical approach for non-traditional students in an online course. Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013. 874-881. Chesapeake, VA. Retrieved from: Source

Although the focus of this article is on the development of applied learning principles for a teacher education program, some, if not all, aspects of the framework can be applied to other sectors of higher education; especially given the changing demographics as more and more non-traditional students enroll in courses.


Employability Skills Framework. Retrieved from: Source

The Employability Skills Framework is comprised of nine key skills for college and career readiness.


Huber, M. T., & Hutchings, P. (2005). Integrative learning: Mapping the terrain. Association of American Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from: Source

Integrative learning and the challenges involved in implementing it into liberal education is explored in this monograph.


Mangan, K. (2012, August 6). At Medical Schools’ Simulation Centers, New Doctors Can Learn Without Fear. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from: Source

Assessment of applied learning in medical schools is the focus of this article.


National Network of Business and Industry Associations (2014). Common employability skills: A foundation for success in the workforce. Retrieved from: Source

The National Network has brought together employers from major economic sectors, and they have identified the core set of fundamental skills that potential employees need in the workplace – and a common vocabulary to explain them.


Newell, W. H. (2010). Educating for a Complex World: Integrative Learning and Interdisciplinary Studies. Liberal Education, 96(4). Retrieved from: Source

Dr. Newell argues that in order to help students make sense of the complex and changing world, universities should adopt an integrative and interdisciplinary approach and provides a framework for implementation. Situated across disciplines, integrative learning creates a space for students to challenge assumptions and develop holistic understandings.


AAC&U’s Peer Review. (Summer/Fall 2005). Integrative learning. Vol. 7, No. 4.

This edition of Peer Review focuses on the usage of integrative learning as a tool for building connectedness in student learning.


AAC&U High-impact Practices. Retrieved from: Source

These High-impact practices have been widely tested and have been shown to be beneficial for college students from many backgrounds, especially historically underserved students, who often do not have equitable access to high-impact learning.


Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: AAC&U. Retrieved from: Source

This publication defines a set of educational practices that research has demonstrated have a significant impact on student success.


Brownell, J.E. and Swaner, L.E. (2010). Five high-impact practices: Research on learning outcomes, completion, and quality. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges & Universities. Retrieved from: Source

This monograph examines what educational research reveals about five educational practices: first-year seminars, learning communities, service learning, undergraduate research, and capstone experiences.


Kuh, G., O’Donnell, Reed, S. (2013). Ensuring quality & taking high-impact practices to scale. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities Retrieved from: Source

Building on previous AAC&U reports, this publication presents research on specific educational practices correlated with higher levels of academic challenge, student engagement, and achievement.


Conley, D.T., & Gaston, P.L. (2013). A path to alignment: Connecting K-12 and higher education via the Common Core and the Degree Qualifications Profile. Indianapolis, IN: Lumina Foundation. Retrieved from: Source

This paper connects the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the DQP by analyzing their differences and commonalities to develop a comprehensive alignment strategy.


King, J. E. (2011). Implementing the common core state standards: An action agenda for higher education. Washington, DC: American Council on Education. Retrieved from: Source

This resource addresses the areas that higher education leaders and faculty will need to focus on to align K-12 and higher education, as well as explores structures at the state and local levels which can facilitate collaboration between K-12 and higher education.


Barnett, E.A., & Fay, M. P. (2013, February). The Common Core State Standards: Implications for community colleges and student preparedness for college. (An NCPR Working Paper). New York, NY: CCRC. Retrieved from: Source

This paper outlines the development of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the CCSS-aligned assessments, the involvement of higher education representatives in their design and implementation, and how the CCSS and the aligned assessments can be used to support the mission of community colleges.


A Beta Credentials Framework. Retrieved from: Source

The Beta Credentials Framework provides a common language that helps stakeholders compare the value of different types of credentials.


Beta Credentials Framework Guidebook. Retrieved from: Source

This guide to using the Beta Credentials Framework helps to identify applications for the framework, and gives a step-by-step process and tools to use the framework.


AAC&U Essential Learning Outcomes. Retrieved from: Source

AAC&U’s Essential Learning Outcomes provide a new framework to guide students’ cumulative progress through college.


Karp, M. M. (2016). A holistic conception of nonacademic support: How four mechanisms combine to encourage positive student outcomes in the community college. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2016 (175), 33-44. Retrieved from: Source

The authors argue that holistic implementation of various non-academic support mechanisms can lead to higher rates of student persistence and degree attainment at the community college level. Two of the four support mechanisms discussed include clarifying aspirations and enhancing commitment as well as making college life feasible. The article concludes with examples of how these non-academic support approaches can be holistically implemented, and a discussion of various implications for ensuring these supports work.


Sample Resources

Integrative Learning: Opportunities to Connect

A collaborative national project sponsored by  Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, this site offers useful strategies for understanding and implementing integrative learning using data from 10 universities over a three year period.


Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education

Missouri Western State University’s annually published journal focuses on experimental work and theoretical scholarship in applied learning including applied learning programs and the examination of their usage in developing student learning outcomes.


Funded Initiatives for Applied & Integrative Learning

An example of funded classroom initiatives at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning (eTEAL) program in Fall 2013.


National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

The National Association of Colleges and Employers developed a definition of career readiness, and identified seven competencies associated with career readiness.