The Impact of Integrated Student Experiences on Learning

Jason R Wingert, Sally A Wasileski, Karin Peterson, Leah Greden Mathews, Amy Joy Lanou, David Clarke


In a cluster of courses called Food for Thought, seven faculty from different departments (including Biology, Economics, Sociology, Chemistry, Health and Wellness, and Foreign Language) teach students about food information, food consumerism, nutrition and health. The classes all have a shared learning outcome focused on developing the student as an informed consumer of food.  Each semester, faculty teach a food-related course from their respective disciplinary perspective while also incorporating cross-course interactions that allow for both integration of disciplinary knowledge and student-to-student learning opportunities. Previous research demonstrated that this approach leads to student perceptions of learning gains (Authors, 2011). Building on that work, this research directly assesses student learning in the Food for Thought cluster. The results demonstrate that exposure to multiple disciplines covering a shared topic enhances learning through greater student ability to integrate diverse forms of knowledge and to see an issue from multiple perspectives. These findings demonstrate the value of multidisciplinary learning opportunities for students.


assessment of student learning; clusters; multidisciplinary learning; integrative learning; cross-course interactions; food

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ISSN 1527-9316