Intellectual Engagement

Please read and reflect on the following executive summary for this proposal,
or even better, the full proposal given here: IntellectualEngagementProposal.pdf
Then please read and contribute to the commentary for this proposal.

Executive Summary: Collaborative Inquiry into Deep and Integrative Learning
Authors: Katie King and Mary Knight-McKenna

Elon University strives to prepare our graduates to tackle challenges faced by their local and global communities. Working collaboratively with others to find solutions to complex problems requires the application of a deeply interconnected knowledge base acquired through the integration of learning across a broad spectrum of contexts. Renowned for engaged learning, Elon is now poised to build upon this success by exploring and promoting intellectual engagement on our campus. Through three related initiatives, faculty, staff and students will explore intellectual engagement in the classroom and in experiential and co-curricular contexts. The findings will be used to stimulate curricular and pedagogical innovations in support of deep and integrative learning, so that our students will be prepared to apply their knowledge and skills as leaders of the twenty-first century.

In the first initiative, students, faculty and staff will be invited to participate in Intellectual Engagement Seminars, courses developed around deep and integrative learning. The two-hour courses will be credit-bearing for students, and count toward normal work load or be accompanied by a stipend for faculty and staff. These courses will be offered throughout the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years.

In the second initiative, teams of students, faculty and/or staff will be invited to apply for Intellectual Engagement Grants to support inquiry projects focused on a) deep learning within the disciplines; b) deep learning within co-curricular programs, e.g., Study Abroad, SGA, or Multicultural Center; or c) integrative learning across the curriculum. These projects may be one, two, three, or even four years in length. Inquiry teams working in related areas or using similar methodologies will meet regularly and develop common rubrics for the assessment of deep and integrative learning.

In the third initiative, discussions will be convened so the campus community can reflect, and build on the new understandings being developed. Beginning in departments and programs, these conversations will widen in concentric circles until the entire University is thinking intentionally about deep and integrative learning and how it can be facilitated with new curricular initiatives and pedagogical innovations. The work will also be disseminated widely, through a web-presence, scholarly presentations and publications, and a book summarizing the project, further supporting Elon University’s reputation for intellectual engagement.

This project will have a fittingly deep and broad influence on student learning: those students who participate directly in any of the three initiatives will deepen their understanding of learning, both generally and in disciplinary and co-curricular contexts. They will gain insight into the need to intentionally integrate knowledge, skills and ways of knowing acquired from multiple sources and experience. Students’ intellectual engagement will increase as they take greater responsibility for their own learning and that of their peers. The exploration of deep and integrative learning on our campus will stimulate the development of innovative curricular and pedagogical strategies which will have a long lasting impact on student learning for years to come.

The full proposal is given here: IntellectualEngagementProposal.pdf.

Please read the comments on this proposal and post your own thoughts/responses (or e-mail

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  • I think this proposal hits the mark in its potential for making an impact on student learning. It is important to encourage students to become aware of and to think more about how their learning happens and why certain learning strategies work better for them. Plus it is important to identify the learning habits that need to be strengthened. Our students might become better learners with this kind of focus on campus..

  • In conversations it has been brought to my attention that many people have great ideas they would already like to try in their classrooms & programs. I think this would fit perfectly within the proposed framework, as long as they were willing to work with others (faculty, staff and/or students) to assess in some way the impact on student learning and to share the results of their work with others. Wouldn't it be great to have a wide range of evidence-based engaged and integrative pedagogies and curricula that we could share with others when they ask us what Elon means by engaged learning?

  • Another step in becoming a learning centered institution.

  • This proposal does have the potential for incorporating the other ideas though. There could be groups working on diversity or civic engagement or writing or futures thinking or information literacy. It seems to me that this proposal has the most potential for providing an over-arching framework of this sort. I also think that we could be nationally distinctive through engaging students in thinking about and developing greater awareness of how their learning happens. This is an important skill in the modern work place that is characterized by change more than anything else. Skills like this will situate our students as leaders in these environments.

  • This is a thought-provoking proposal based on recent scholarship about learning that would help us as a faculty become more intentional about deep and integrative learning. I appreciate the effort the authors have put into this and like the emphasis on deepening things we already want to be doing, but it feels a little more amorphous than some of the other proposals, so it’s lower on my list of priorities.