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i2a Goals for the College of Arts & Sciences for AY 2009-2010

Students thinking critically in the physics laboratory.  During the coming academic year, the College will be doing a trial implementation of the Ideas to Action agenda:  piloting the use of the critical thinking model in some General Education classes, mapping the major curricula in some degree programs, and piloting Culminating Experiences in some departments.  What is learned from these pilot projects will shape the definitions of key components of Ideas to Action for coming years.

Each department is asked to participate in the pilot by letting the i2a facilitators know by September 1 which one(s) of the three projects it will undertake during AY 2009-2010.  Some departments might be ready to implement in fall 2009, but we expect that most will use fall to plan for implementation of the pilot in spring 2010.  Grant funds will be available competitively to departments to fund planning and implementation of the pilot projects; for application details see Ideas to Action (i2a) Unit Implementation Funds Proposal Instructions 2009-2010 (PDF).

Here is more information about what is involved in each of the pilots.




  To pilot Ideas to Action in one or more sections of a General Education course:

  • Intentionally teach the skills represented by the Elements of Thought (i2a @ UofL website) and Universal Intellectual Standards (i2a @ UofL website); no course is asked to teach ALL the Elements, just some, as appropriate 
  • Tell the students that they are learning these skills
  • Model the use of the skills (e.g., in a lecture, say why one interpretation of the evidence is better than another)
  • Use the vocabulary of the elements and the standards when you can appropriately do so; if students hear the same skills emphasized across the curriculum, they will see that they are foundational skills to all intellectual work
  • Design tests and assignments to have students use the skills represented by the Elements and Standards




Mapping the Curriculum should be a simpler task for degree programs that have sequential curricula; such programs would therefore be the ideal ones to undertake this pilot.  To pilot Ideas to Action by mapping the curriculum of the major:

  • Ask the instructors of courses in the major to look at the lists of Elements and Standards and indicate which are taught in their courses; it is certainly not expected that every course will teach every Element or Standard
  • Collect syllabi or assignments that document the teaching of the Elements and Standards; the purpose of this pilot map is to find out what we are doing now, so there is no expectation that the Elements and Standards will be easily visible in many current syllabi or assignments
  • See if you can chart a progression in the teaching of the Elements and Standards by characterizing the level at which students’ are asked to use them in various courses; for example, in which courses is the skill of identifying assumptions introduced, in which courses is it developed beyond the introductory level, and in which courses are students expected to demonstrate mastery of the skill?  




To pilot a Culminating Experience, a department might adapt a section of an existing course or pilot a new course under a topics number.  The defining features of a culminating experience are that it:

  • Is undertaken after sufficient academic preparation, e.g., after completion of at least 90 credits of coursework or key prerequisite courses.
  • Is part or all of an approved or accepted by the major discipline:  a) a credit-bearing course,  or b) an experience (e.g., honors project or independent study). The unit/department has the responsibility for designing the culminating experience.
  • Provides the opportunity for demonstration of the student’s mastery of content and use of critical thinking skills that includes reflection.
  • Requires integration and application of knowledge and skills to address an authentic issue. Authenticity includes meaningful, real-world issues, problems or concerns that are relevant to the learner and the discipline and are shaped by practical constraints of time, space, or resources.
  • Incorporates ongoing, comprehensive feedback from students, faculty or others involved with the experience.
  • Results in an output that can be assessed by internal or external reviewers using evaluation criteria favored by the discipline. Examples of outputs include a paper, portfolio, or performance


In the summer of 2010 departments will be asked to report on the results of the Culminating Experience pilot(s) they conducted; the current working drafts of three reporting forms are as follows:  Student Reflection (PDF), Student Evaluation (PDF), and Faculty Evaluation (PDF).

 PDF files on this page require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (download).


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