Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Ideas to Action, or i2a?
- Why does i2a focus on critical thinking? Aren't we already teaching that at UofL?
- How is UofL defining critical thinking?
- What type of "Culminating Undergraduate Experiences" are undergraduate students required to complete before they graduate? When will that requirement be in place?
- How can I get more information or get involved with i2a?
What is Ideas to Action, or i2a?
In 2005, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) asked UofL to propose a university-wide initiative known as a quality enhancement plan (QEP) to improve student learning. The initiative had to be practical and one with measurable success, and is an expectation for all schools in the region. With input and support from all segments of the UofL community, the initiative was created and named Ideas to Action: Using Critical Thinking to Foster Student Learning and Community Engagement, also known simply as i2a.
i2a is designed to sharpen the University's existing focus on building students' critical thinking skills, starting in the general education program and continuing through undergraduate major courses. All undergraduate students will have an opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking skills before they graduate by engaging in a Culminating Undergraduate Experience, such as a thesis, service learning project, internship or capstone project. i2a also supports the university's commitment to community engagement through assessment tools, partnerships and other projects.
Why does i2a focus on critical thinking? Aren't we already teaching that at UofL?
The ability to think critically calls for a higher-order thinking than simply the ability to recall information. Our faculty are currently designing courses, assignments and tests to promote students' critical thinking, but i2a represents the opportunity to sharpen our individual and collective efforts in these areas as a campus and give students increasing opportunities to practice and advance toward higher-level reasoning.
Watch our Faculty Speak! video to hear faculty talking about how i2a has enriched their teaching and practice of critical thinking. Students, faculty and staff reflect on i2a experiences.
Our i2a initiative provides faculty and staff with support for explicitly and intentionally incorporating critical thinking activities into their classrooms and aids units in developing rigorous Culminating Undergraduate Experiences appropriate to the disciplines.
Critical thinking was chosen by our campus community as the focus of i2a and it fits our university very well. It reflects the mission assigned to us by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, builds upon our General Education Program's continued commitment to critical thinking, and targets an area that past assessment has indicated could use improvement. A renewed focus on helping students identify, practice, and master the core reasoning skills directly supports our university's 2020 Plan to prepare our students to become the civic, business and cultural leaders of the 21st century.
How is UofL defining critical thinking?
The i2a initiative provides our campus with the opportunity to share a common critical thinking definition and vocabulary. The campus has chosen the Richard Paul-Linda Elder critical thinking framework to guide i2a because of its comprehensive approach and its discipline-neutral terminology. Our Faculty Exemplar page and our CLC projects page offer specific examples of how this terminology is integrated across the student experience. The Paul-Elder framework allows us to come together as a campus to foster well-cultivated critical thinkers.
What type of "Culminating Undergraduate Experiences" are undergraduate students required to complete before they graduate? When will that requirement be in place?
A cornerstone of the i2a project is students' engagement in what we call a "Culminating Undergraduate Experience" or CUE. Before he or she graduates, every student will be asked to apply his or her new knowledge and critical thinking skills in a project or research endeavor that has practical application. The style and scope of the CUE will vary by school, department or academic program. The University has chosen to take an expansive approach to CUEs and expects participating units to develop a mix of approaches, which could include:
- Capstone Courses/Projects
- Senior Theses
- Research Projects
- Service Learning Projects
To learn more about the CUE defining features, assessment rubric under development, and other details, visit our CUE page.
How can I get more information or get involved with i2a?
The i2a Team and Task Group are offering an ongoing series of workshops and sessions across campus to give you an opportunity to get involved. Check out the i2a Programs as well as our Calendar of Events. We welcome the involvement of all faculty, staff and students in planning and implementation of the i2a initiative. You can read more about i2a by navigating through the different aspects of this website or contact the i2a Team for the most up to date information. As the program continues to evolve, we look forward to developing more opportunities for you to get involved with i2a! We appreciate your comments and suggestions.