Integrative Experience (IE)

The Integrative Experience is a hallmark component of a student’s Guilford education. It consists of a series of inquiry-based courses and experiences that provide space for curiosity, exploration, and reflection. The program offers a unique opportunity for students to merge academic and personal inquiry into an individual or cooperative project through collaboration with fellow students, faculty and staff, and/or members of broader local or global communities. As a result of the reflective and integrative experience, we hope that students will develop an ongoing, self-motivated pursuit of knowledge.

The culminating project for the Integrative Experience, called the Contribution, represents a tangible conclusion to the exploration, reflection, and integration processes students have been engaged with during their time at Guilford. Whether students undertake a project that relates to their academic pursuits, their vocational aspirations, or their co-curricular interests, the Contribution is intended to provide the opportunity to showcase their intellectual curiosities, knowledge, and skills as an integral part of their education.  

Integrative Experience begins by building community through collaborative, project-based experiences in the First Year Seminar. Students identify areas and topics they are interested in learning more about, thereby encouraging students to branch out into new areas of exploration. The Junior Seminar offers a place for students to identify and reflect on their curiosities and integrate their learning across disciplines. With the support of their advising team, students choose Explore courses that will inform their Contribution, which is completed in the Senior Seminar course.

Through the Integrative Experience, students will

  • Develop an awareness of who they are as a learner and in the academic community of Guilford.
  • Engage in continuous reflection on their academic growth as it relates to their curiosity and future goals.
  • Produce a project (the Contribution) that integrates their learning, insights, values, and questions. 
  • Develop skills in collaborating with others to achieve group and individual goals.
  • Develop skills for communicating their work in small groups and with larger audiences. 

The Integrative Experience consists of the following courses and experiences.

  • IE 101: First Year Seminar. A four-credit course taken during a student’s first semester at Guilford.
  • IE 301: Junior Seminar. A two-credit course typically completed in a student’s junior year.  This requirement may be filled by HON 301 or an approved course in a program/major (One to Four credits). 
  • Explore courses: At least two courses of personal interest (a total of six-eight credits) supporting the student’s path to their Contribution. Each student identifies these courses in consultation with their advising team and Junior Seminar instructor.
  • IE 401: Senior Seminar. A four-credit course taken when the student typically has senior standing in which they complete their Contribution. This requirement may be filled by an approved course in a program/major.

The Integrative Experience requirement at Guilford is expected not only of traditional first-time students to the college, but also of transfer students joining Guilford after completing college credits at another institution. The modified Integrative Experience requirements for transfer students are summarized below.

 

IE I01 First Year Seminar

Overview

The goal of Guilford’s First Year Seminar is to introduce students to the academic community at Guilford, while offering them intensive, focused support and guidance. Students identify the areas and topics they are interested in learning more about, thereby encouraging students to branch out into new areas of exploration. A unique structure—that intentionally pairs the academic component with parallel academic skill-building and success strategies—guides students to achieve academic success in the course, and also throughout their first semester of courses and beyond. With an emphasis on facilitating students’ growth mindset and through focused and structured reflection, the course encourages students to position themselves as intellectually-engaged college students and also as lifelong learners.

At the same time, the course focuses on introducing and welcoming students to the Guilford community. Understanding that students remain and persist when they feel connected with not only their peers, but also the faculty and staff, the course prioritizes relationship-building—with the faculty member and Career, Academic, Personal Exploration (CAPE) advisor who are both teaching and collaborating with one another in the course—but also with other resources and supports across campus. The course thus introduces students to the beginning stage of a collaborative, team-based advising approach, where students can rely on multiple people with different perspectives to offer guidance and support throughout their time at Guilford.

Timing: First-year students and transfer students with first-year standing (<24 credits) entering Guilford in the fall are required to take the First Year Seminar in their first semester. For students entering in the spring or students who need to retake the First Year Seminar in the spring semester, the timing and format of the course may vary but the course will satisfy the same outcomes. If desired by the faculty member, the course is open to a small number (5-8) of non-first year students.  

Each First Year Seminar course has the following members: 

  • Faculty member. Faculty members are academic advisors for team-advising needed on an individual basis. Students confident in a major will get assistance connecting them with a faculty member within the major.
  • CAPE advisor. The CAPE advisor will be the students’ primary advisor and is responsible for setting up individual meetings about course scheduling and other student needs.  

Course Structure: This course meets three days a week.

  • Two days are the responsibility of a faculty member or teaching staff (e.g., CPPSET) with disciplinary or interdisciplinary expertise who will focus on an academic topic of their choosing. 
  • One day is the responsibility of a CAPE advisor with educational support expertise who will focus on student success skills. 
  • If there are non-first year students enrolled in the course the instructor can decide whether or not they would be required to attend all three days, but they should still have sufficient assignments and meetings (with the professor or in collaborative groups) to justify the 4 credits. It is the faculty member’s choice whether or not to include non-first year students. If the faculty member chooses to do so, the overall cap of the course may be raised to accommodate both first and non-first year students.
  • The course will have one Canvas site which allows faculty and CAPE advisors to see what the other is requiring and allows CAPE advisors to see how their advisees are actually doing in the course rather than relying on self-reports. The course will have one syllabus, with the academic skills portion worth 20% of the grade.
  • This is not a team-teaching model, rather this is a communication/collaboration model. The minimum communication is outlined above, but ideally the faculty member and CAPE advisor will collaborate about the timing of skill-instruction tied to specific assignments and sit in on each other’s classes.

Outcomes

Students will 

  • Begin active engagement with the community of Guilford. 
  • Develop a lens to help make foundational connections between learning and experiences. 
  • Develop academic success strategies to achieve course goals and as foundations for future academic experiences at Guilford. In particular: 
  1. Skills for collaborating with others
  2. Skills for communicating their work in small groups and with larger audiences
  3. Reading skills and strategies
  4. Time management
  5. Note-taking and study skills and strategies
  6. Information literacy and digital competencies
  7. Persist in educational pursuits, as demonstrated by consistent progress or improvements in academic work.
  • Explore Courses

    The purpose of the Explore courses is to develop, in more detail, the student’s academic curiosity. Given this goal, potentially any course that a student takes could be identified as an Explore course. Therefore, students develop plans for Explore courses in their first semester at Guilford. As students begin to develop ideas for their Contribution proposal, they will identify Explore courses as an assignment in the Junior Seminar. Students should identify at least two Explore courses (six-eight credits) that together demonstrate a multidisciplinary approach to their curiosity. 

    Explore courses may double-count with general education requirements, major requirements, minor requirements, or course requirements of other programs.

    IE 301 Junior Seminar

    In the Junior Seminar students continue the process of reflection and curiosity development from the First Year Seminar and Explore courses. Instructors may include other course content as appropriate, especially when the student population is from a specific cohort, for example, Bonner Scholars or students in the Honors Program. By the end of the Junior Seminar, students will identify their Explore courses, share ideas for their contribution project, and select a Senior Seminar course. 

    Format:  There are three possibilities for students to complete the Junior Seminar. With guidance from their advising team, students will choose from these options.

  • Complete the Junior Seminar as part of a collaborative topic- or project-specific cluster with an instructor(s) who leads that cluster such as Ethical Leadership. 
  • Complete the Junior Seminar through a designated course option such as Honors and approved course in the major (See approved Designated Junior and Senior Seminar Courses list). 
  • Complete the two-credit Junior Seminar as a standalone course (IE 301) with an instructor and guidance from a faculty or staff collaborator (additional support can be provided by community members).

Outcomes:

Students will

  • Develop an awareness of who they are as a learner and in the academic community of Guilford. 
  • Reflect on knowledge and skills acquired through curricular and co-curricular experiences in order to effectively communicate their learning journey, interests, insights; purpose/values, goals, and questions. 
  • By the end of the Junior Seminar, students will identify their Explore courses, share ideas for their contribution project, and select their Senior Seminar course.

IE 401 Senior Seminar and the Contribution

The Senior Seminar, in which students complete the Contribution, requires students nearing the end of their degree program to complete a project addressing a question or problem that applies what they’ve learned and reflected on through their entire educational experience. The project might be a research paper; a performance; a portfolio of “signature work;” an exhibition of artwork; significant community service; participation in the planning, organization and administration of a significant group project or program; or a project of similar scope. A student’s Contribution builds specifically on their Junior Seminar and Explore courses and more generally on their entire coursework and co-curricular experiences. Students do not develop their Contribution in a silo, but with groundwork that is firmly rooted in the exchanges that occurred in a collaborative community of common curiosity among fellow students, faculty and staff, and/or members of broader local or global communities. 

Timing: The Contribution is a graduation requirement for Guilford College. The credit-bearing Senior Seminar takes place after the completion of the Junior Seminar. Students will typically take the Senior Seminar in the fall or spring fourteen-week session of their senior year. The typical expectation is for each student to complete the Contribution in a Senior Seminar before the spring three-week session of their senior year. 

Format: There are three possibilities for students to complete a Senior Seminar in which they will complete their Contribution. Students must complete the Contribution to receive credit for the Senior Seminar and to meet graduation requirements. With guidance from their advising team, students will choose from these options.

  • Complete a Contribution in a designated Senior Seminar option attached to a collaborative topic- or project-specific cluster. There is student autonomy in topic and/or product in this model. Faculty should be able to clearly demonstrate how the capstone or thesis is student driven in some capacity. This Senior Seminar option may double count with general education requirements, major requirements, minor requirements, or course requirements of other programs.
  • Complete a Contribution in a designated Senior Seminar option in a disciplinary or interdisciplinary capstone or thesis course (See approved Designed Junior and Senior Seminar Courses list). There is student autonomy in topic and/or product in this model. Faculty should be able to clearly demonstrate how the capstone or thesis is student driven in some capacity. This Senior Seminar option may double count with general education requirements, major requirements, minor requirements, or course requirements of other programs.
  • Complete a Contribution in a standalone Senior Seminar (IE 401) with an instructor and guidance from a faculty or staff collaborator (additional support can be provided by community members). In this course, both topics and products are student driven. This model offers the opportunity for individual and group projects.
  • Student Contributions will vary widely based on student curiosities and collaborative methods within which students accomplish the goals of the projects. All projects must include (written, oral, or otherwise) the following:
  1. An artifact, such as a thesis, artist’s statement, research paper, reflection, or other physical or digital item, that is representative of the student’s Contribution and can be deposited in their Folios that will incorporate:
  2. Clear rationale for the work and why it is important (to them and/or the larger community)
  3. Summary of work
  4. A reflection on the student’s journey through the experience and their educational journey, which will include:
  5. Discussion of the origins of and self-motivation to explore their curiosity

  6. Identification of specific skills (individual and collective) developed 

  7. Exploration of insights, values, questions, and application connections (for themselves and/or the larger community)

  8. Evaluation of the models of collaboration that the student has identified as useful and important to their development 

  9. Consideration of future directions for their curiosity based on this experience

  10. Sharing of the Contribution in some form (presentation, performance, etc.) with peers, including providing an opportunity for discussion and feedback

Outcomes:

Students will

  • Produce a project (the Contribution) that integrates their learning, insights, values, and questions.
  • Present the project in an appropriate public forum.
  • Create an artifact that is representative of the student’s Contribution and can be deposited in their Folio.
  • Develop an inward and outward reflection on their culminating project and their journey through the Integrative Experience, identifying specific knowledge and skills developed and future directions for their curiosity.