UCF HIP Signature Experience Initiative

Overview

Signature Experiences are specifically selected upper-level High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) and experiences with shared student learning outcomes. These experiences will be integrated into a student plan of study as a culminating academic experience.

In an effort to expand HIPs for all students as a prerequisite for graduation, the University of Central Florida has developed a set of Signature Experiences in conjunction with recommendations set by the AACU. The motivation and goal for implementing UCF Signature Experiences is to provide students with the best undergraduate education in the state of Florida. These experiences give students an opportunity to shine inside and out of the classroom by showcasing the knowledge they have acquired throughout their undergraduate career.

A Capstone course is a culminating experience for students nearing the end of their degree to create a project that integrates and applies what they have learned. The project might be a research paper, a performance, a portfolio of ‘best work’, or an exhibit of artwork. While the nature of the project may vary, it is driven by a student’s interest and guided by experienced faculty.

Objectives

A Capstone course represents the amalgamation of a student’s academic career and thus, the student-led project should be reflective of the interdisciplinary learning that the student has experienced while obtaining their degree. Each department will set their expectations for students participating in a capstone course given the variation between programs. The project may be group-oriented or created by an individual.

The aim of project-based courses is for students to autonomously synthesize the multi-disciplinary knowledge gained during their undergraduate career and relate it to a project that has practical applications to their field. Creative and logistical decision making will be required of students, creating the conditions for students to demonstrate leadership, teamwork, decisiveness, goal-setting, problem solving, and critical thinking. In order to track the student’s personal growth through the duration of the project, students will be asked to reflect upon their experience before, during, and after.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Creative Thinking
  • Inquiry and Analysis
  • Problem Solving

 

Kuh, G. (2009). High-Impact educational practices, what they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

McGill, P. T. (2012). Understanding the capstone experience through the voices of students. The Journal of General Education61(4), 488-504.

Directed Independent Research is defined as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student, under the guidance of a faculty mentor, that makes, or supports the making of, an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, the pursuit of scholarship, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions. These students are mentored by content experts in the field, usually faculty with terminal degrees in an area related to the research. Student outcomes are varied depending on their discipline:

  • Sciences – Test predictions from hypotheses to generate new information
  • Humanities – Synthesize knowledge to create new ideas
  • Fine Arts – Create new works and techniques from existing models

Objectives

As emphasized in its title, the ability to work independently is paramount to Directed Independent Research. Although students may work as part of a larger research project or team, the basis for this program is to allow students to develop an individualized research question and bring their project to fruition during the given semester. Faculty will serve as guides, but remain ‘hands-off’ as students learn how to problem solve autonomously. Students who participate in research gain transferable skills such as creative thinking and analysis as well as interpersonal skills.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Creative Thinking
  • Inquiry and Analysis
  • Reading

Experiential Learning courses provide the student an opportunity to build upon and apply knowledge and skills in a supervised situation.

Objectives

These experiences seek to approximate “real-world” conditions in order to effectively apply the student’s knowledge and skills that will be used after graduation. Experiences include curricular support structures for students (i.e. seminar, web course, advising) as well as defined supervision and evaluation.

Internship

Internships are experiences that allow a student to gain real-world experience under the supervision of an experienced professional in their field. These experiences are tied to courses that are facilitated by instructors who monitor the students experience. Internship courses include curriculum designed to scaffold experiences for students, and include formative and summative evaluation components. Internship positions may be paid or unpaid.

Cooperative Education (Co-op)

Co-ops are experiences that allow students to gain practical experience with the same employer over multiple semester while continuing to pursue academic coursework. Co-op positions are paid positions, and students may work park time over consecutive semesters (parallel co-op) or work full time one semester and then take courses full time the next semester (alternate). UCF’s co-op program is accredited by The Accreditation Council for Cooperative Education and managed by The Office of Experiential Learning (OEL). Students will register for an OEL course each semester, except when the student is registered for departmental internship credit.

Practicum

Practicum experiences are structured such that students spend time gaining real-world experience while also spending time in the classroom (or virtual course setting). As part of practicum courses, students typically engage in specific activities tied to course content and course structures allow students opportunities for structured reflection. Supervision of practicum experiences is typically accomplished collaboratively by practitioners in the field and the course instructor.

Clinical

Clinical experiences provide students opportunities to gain real-world experience while engaging in specific activities designed to allow students to meet programmatic learning objectives while in the field. Clinicals are supervised by experienced practitioners and/or university instructors. Supervisors typically meet explicit criteria defined by accrediting bodies and support students through highly structured supervision and evaluation activities.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Information Literacy
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Problem Solving

UCF Study Abroad programs serve to enhance the global classroom here at UCF and compliment the traditional on-campus student experience with a high-impact international experience. Participation in a study abroad experience provides students the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in a host culture while providing broader perspectives on their chosen discipline, leading to greater career preparedness. The UCF Abroad Office currently offers over one hundred study abroad program options in nearly forty countries around the world.

Objectives

Study abroad experiences include a variety of options to meet student budget and academic needs and include; short-term/faculty-led programs, semester- and year-long reciprocal exchange programs, external or partner programs, and international internships.

Short-Term/Faculty-Led Programs

Short-term programs range in duration from one to eight weeks and are best thought of as a UCF course taught in an overseas destination(s) with a strong emphasis on experiential opportunities for academic enhancement. This style of program is a great option for students looking to further immerse themselves in their major/minor discipline and exploring a host culture for a shorter period of time.

Semester/Year-Long Exchange

An exchange program allows students a great opportunity to have a longer, more culturally immersive experience by taking advantage of a reciprocal student exchange agreement between UCF colleges and their select counterparts in locations overseas. Programs are rooted in specific departments or colleges and space can be limited. Exchange programs are a great way to experience further immersion in a host environment and area of study while gaining experience living abroad.

Partner Programs

For disciplines that do not currently offer a faculty-led or exchange program, students can take advantage of programs offered through accredited US institutions or external program provider organizations. Programs can be offered in nearly all majors and disciplines and in many countries around the world.

International Internships

Students from all majors can take advantage of internship opportunities to gain professional experience by completing an internship in select locations.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Information Literacy
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Problem Solving

AAC&U defines integrative learning as “an understanding and a disposition that a student builds across the curriculum and co-curriculum, from making simple connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus.” Integrative Experience courses have three core elements: 1) Intentional Learning, whereby students set goals and plan their education deliberately and purposefully; 2) High-impact practices (HIPs), in which students participate in educational experiences that demand considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, and require meaningful interactions with faculty and other students; 3) Metacognition, in which students develop self-awareness and the ability to reflect and learn from their experiences.

NOTE: This is a pending course designation through the Quality Enhancement Plan. The process should be live in fall 2018 for course to be designation by spring 2019 at the earliest.

Objectives

At the University of Central Florida, Integrative Learning Experience (IE) courses offer students a chance to explore integrative pathways that connect the core knowledge and skills of their major to real-world professional and civic contexts. Students work closely with their professors and peers to develop, reflect on, and articulate their goals.

 

IE-designated Course Requirements

The basic criteria for designating a course or course sequence as an Integrative Learning Experience (IE) at UCF is that through the course students will accomplish the following:

  • Develop an integrative learning plan based on their academic knowledge, experiences, and skills in relation to their self-development and aspirations
  • Adapt and apply discipline-specific skills, abilities, theories, or methodologies to solve difficult problems or explore complex issues
  • Connect core knowledge and skills of the major to real-world professional and civic contexts
  • Participate in meaningful collaborations that include diverse experiences and/or perspectives
  • Articulate knowledge, skills, and qualifications to diverse audiences both within and beyond the university
  • Engage in structured student reflections that connect past experiences to ongoing professional and civic goals

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Inquiry and Analysis
  • Integrative Learning
  • Reflection and Self-Assessment

DEFINITION

The University of Central Florida defines Integrative-Learning Experience (IE) courses as those that offer students a chance to explore integrative pathways that connect the core knowledge and skills of their major to real-world professional and civic contexts. Students work closely with their professors and peers to develop, reflect on, and articulate their goals. AAC&U defines integrative learning as “an understanding and a disposition that a student builds across the curriculum and co-curriculum, from making simple connections among ideas and experiences to synthesizing and transferring learning to new, complex situations within and beyond the campus.” Integrative Learning has three core elements:

  • Intentional Learning—whereby students set goals and plan their education deliberately and purposefully.
  • High-impact practices (HIPs)—in which students participate in educational experiences that demand considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, and require meaningful interactions with faculty and other students.
  • Metacognition—in which students develop self-awareness and the ability to reflect and learn from their experiences.

Although many courses include aspects of integrative-learning, to be designated an IE course, integrative-learning content must be central rather than peripheral to the syllabus.

 

CRITERIA

The basic criteria for designating a course or course sequence as an Integrative-Learning Experience (IE) at UCF is that through the course students will accomplish the following:

  • Develop an integrative learning plan based on their academic knowledge, experiences, and skills in relation to their self-development and aspirations
  • Structured assignments that allow students to articulate short- and long-term goals and to develop a personalized integrative learning plan to meet those goals
  • Adapt and apply discipline-specific skills, abilities, theories, or methodologies to solve difficult problems or explore complex issues
  • Connect core knowledge and skills of the major to real-world professional and civic contexts
  • Participate in meaningful collaborations and/or interactions that include diverse experiences and/or perspectives
  • Articulate knowledge, skills, and qualifications to diverse audiences both within and beyond the university
  • Engage in structured reflections that connect past experiences to ongoing professional and civic goals

MORE INFORMATION

For questions concerning the application process or Integrative-Learning designation, please contact the Office of the Quality Enhancement plan at QEP@ucf.edu.

UCF defines service-learning as a teaching method that uses community involvement to apply theories or skills being taught in a course. Service-Learning furthers the learning objectives of the academic course, addresses community needs, and requires students to reflect on their activity in order to gain an appreciation for the relationship between civics and academics.

NOTE: This is a course designation through Experiential Learning

Objectives

Service-Learning is part of the UCF initiative to provide a means for every student to enhance their academic program with experiential learning opportunities. As a teaching method, service-learning enables students to take academics out of the classroom and into the community in an effort to promote civic engagement. By working with community partners such as non-profit organizations, public schools, government agencies, campus groups, or businesses with specifically philanthropic missions, students develop skills and knowledge that will help them to become civically responsible members of the community.

Service-Learning is a reciprocal process that involves faculty, students, and the community. Faculty members reinvigorate teaching by engaging students in academic and social concerns. Students connect theory to practice and foster civic responsibility by developing a relationship with like-minded community partners. The community receives an infusion of people power and access to university resources enabling them to explore new ideas and generate energy in community agencies.

UCF Service-Learning Course Designation

UCF has a process for formally designating a course (or one or more sections of a course) as a Service-Learning course. The designation process is managed by the Office of Experiential Learning. The basic criteria for a course to include the service-learning designation are that the course include experiences that align with course objectives and:

  • Address a need in the community (campus, local, regional, global)
  • Involve at least 15 hours of student service
  • Through collaboration with an appropriate agency, involve reciprocity between course and community that results in students’ increase in civic awareness and engagement
  • Include opportunities for structured student reflection

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Civic Engagement
  • Ethical Reasoning
  • Intercultural Knowledge