Integrated Core Learning (ICL)

Integrated Core Learning is the essence of undergraduate learning at UC, reflecting our strengths as one of the nation's top urban research institutions. It's the thoughtful mixing of top-notch academics with real world experiences. What is the result? A learning experience that is exceptionally self-directed, interdisciplinary, global, and in short, transformational.

What does "Integrated Core" mean?

Integrated = the combining or mixing of professional learning and active learning experiences throughout the undergraduate curriculum; an interdisciplinary approach to teaching; the making of connections to solve problems; learning subjects as part of the whole undergraduate learning experience. (See ICL in action: Great Streets & Gateways Project)

Core = a General Education program that promotes four learning outcomes or competencies (critical thinking, effective communication, knowledge integration, social responsibility); a foundational liberal learning experience that follows the undergraduate student through their required courses, experiences, student reflections, and senior capstone course experience.

The ICL Vision

The goal of the Integrated Core Learning (ICL) initiative is the thoughtful integration of the General Education core, major course work, undergraduate research, practicum, clinical placements, co-op and service learning experiences, co-curricular activities, and faculty-guided reflection throughout the undergraduate curriculum. This holistic approach creates a transformative individual educational experience. ICL is built upon the University of Cincinnati's strength as a leading urban research institution with an emphasis on experiential learning and a high quality academic foundation.

Benefits to Students

1. Complex and collaborative settings for learning encourage students to develop skills and tools that distinguish the UC graduate:

  • the ability to integrate and apply what they are learning
  • to think critically
  • to communicate complex ideas in a variety of settings
  • to work effectively in interdisciplinary environments

2. The integration of theory and practice experiences prepare students to transition to a profession or graduate program and continue to assume ownership for life-long learning, civic engagement, and social responsibility.

3. A connected holistic educational model helps students value their comprehensive education - an education that encompasses the liberal arts, applied disciplines, and scientific and technological domains.

4. Hands on experiences with culturally and intellectually diverse groups prepares students to understand and contribute to today's world.

5. Simply put, ICL makes learning fun and engaging! Students are more likely to stick with their academic plans and graduate.

The Integrated Core Learning Process

The ICL process is built around three touch-points in the undergraduate experience to provide all students with key opportunities to develop, review, and act upon a learning plan for degree completion:

Great Beginnings

UC's nationally known First Year Experience (FYE) program where students begin a firm foundation in courses (English Composition, common freshman readings, breath of knowledge courses) as well as experiences and reflections (learning communities, first year seminars, first year expo, lab/applied experiences, e-portfolios).

Mid-Collegiate Launch

Students experience a purposeful curriculum combined with individual reflections and real world experiences (experiential learning) giving the student both disciplinary proficiency as well as contextual understanding.  Our students learn to integrate their knowledge of various subjects and apply it to problem solving.  Students continue to update e-portfolios, have a specialized upper-level writing course, have Just Community readings regarding diversity, and strengthen information literacy skills.

Sophomore year is a special time.  The Cincinnati Sophomore Initiative is rooted in ICL with its focus on academic, career, and co-curricular resources to help students succeed.  Sophomore Learning Communities have also been added to bring diverse groups of students together to engage with more complex course material. 

Finale: The Senior Capstone Experience

A senior year experience that enables students to transition to a profession or graduate school and continue to pursue life-long learning and social responsibility.  The capstone experience is designed to demonstrate proficiency in the General Education Core baccalaureate competencies and in the content/skills of the program/major.  This high quality learning experience challenges students to draw upon many disciplines of study and encourages students to think through the myriad connections and inter-relationships among professions, cultures, and civic life. 

Here are some examples of students’ capstone experiences: