Sequenced, Integrated Learning
The DQP proficiencies are framed at three degree levels—associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s. Tuning efforts also must consider levels of student learning. At some point, preferably sooner rather than later, discussions in both approaches must turn to the most effective way to sequence and integrate students’ learning experiences within individual courses and across educational levels. The final report from Texas’s Tuning of Civil Engineering (2011) discussed how Tuning provides levels of developmental expectations—from the beginning of pre-professional study to professional study to practice—by seeking input from various stakeholders so as to establish a clear picture of what is expected and how to efficiently plan educational experiences to achieve those expectations. Both the DQP and Tuning address issues of applied and integrated learning. In other words, “applied” refers to a capacity to think nimbly and use learning from one area in another. The pedagogical challenge here is not how to train students but how to help students develop awareness of the ways their knowledge can be utilized. The backwards-design approach to scaffolded learning—learning that builds on prior learning over time by reinforcing and requiring students to apply and integrate what they learn—is integral to both Tuning and DQP efforts. A professor of history in Utah who had participated in the state’s Tuning initiative asked students in the senior capstone class to reflect on the knowledge gained as a history major and explain how it could be used outside the field. Subsequently, when a graduate—a former student of that professor—was told in a job interview that a degree in history likely did not give her the skills for a position at an archive, she explained how her study of history had imparted valuable skills and knowledge that could benefit the archive. She got the job. The point here is that study in the discipline was not diluted or vocationalized; rather, the professor helped students develop an appreciation for the broader applicability of what the discipline taught.