Integrative Learning is an area that EIU takes very seriously. Integrative Learning means connecting skills and knowledge from multiple sources and experiences; applying theory to practice in various settings; utilizing diverse and even contradictory points of view; and, understanding issues and positions contextually. Significant knowledge within individual disciplines serves as the foundation, but integrative learning goes beyond academic boundaries. Indeed, integrative experiences often occur as learners address real-world problems, unscripted and sufficiently broad to require multiple areas of knowledge and multiple modes of inquiry, offering multiple solutions and benefiting from multiple perspectives.
The Physics Department fully embraces the Eastern Integrative Experience. Many of the initiatives and directions of the Integrative Experience are standard operating procedure for the Physics Department. Vertical Integrative Learning is how the curriculum is set up in this discipline, going from lower level courses to higher level courses in a defined sequence. Horizontal Integrative Learning is also encouraged by the curriculum as it is designed, so learning in lab complements the lecture and Math is necessary to discuss the concepts in Physics. Global and Cosmic Integrative Learning are also somewhat endemic to Physics as a subject. Finally, Personal Integrative Learning which focuses on the individual is essential for a well rounded Physics major and the Department makes efforts to ensure this aspect of the student’s education.
Integrative Learning is part of the culture of Physics. The universality of the subject lends itself well to the concepts of Integrative Learning. Problem solving is at the heart of most Physics courses. Students are taught in a number of collaborative settings. At some points in the curriculum students are expected to reflect on their total knowledge and draw connections that they may not have drawn before. The small size of the Physics Department means that each student is not lost in the numbers and has many individualized interactions with faculty members. It also means that the faculty know their students and the students know their faculty.