Knowledge Acquisition, Integration, and Application
Jason Bergeron, University of Houston
The Learning Reconsidered 2 Knowledge Acquisition, Integration, and Application domain (ACPA, ACUHO-I, ACUI, NACADA, NACA, NASPA, & NIRSA, 2006) is directly concerned with students’ ability to connect and integrate new knowledge to existing knowledge and experiences. Proficiency in this domain allows students to expand their knowledge base across a spectrum and understand the interconnectedness of different information. As students cognitively develop, work in this area allows them to connect classroom experiences and educational programs to concrete experiences (e.g., leading peers or making values-based decisions within a chapter or community), which fosters an ability to navigate future planning, such as goal setting and career planning. An intended outcome of work in this domain is students making a demonstrated commitment to lifelong learning.
One might observe a variety of ways in which students are connecting knowledge and experiences to one another. Specifically, this domain promotes the connectedness between classroom experiences and out-of-classroom experiences. For example, a student enrolled in a class on organizational behavior might observe applicable behaviors within his or her chapter executive board. This may assist the student in understanding the behavior of the group and determining possible intervention strategies. Additionally, growth in this area occurs as students are involved in experiences that cross the curricular/co-curricular line (e.g., service learning experiences, study abroad experiences, and internship experiences). As they develop within this domain, students invest themselves in their learning, and may demonstrate changes in behavior, such as increased class attendance and further participation in educational and developmental programs (ACPA et al., 2006).
Fraternity/sorority advisors may integrate this domain in their everyday work in a variety of ways. One-on-one meetings with chapter and council leaders can include conversations about classroom learning. Finding time to ask students “what was the most valuable thing you learned in class this week?” or “how have you applied what you learned in class?” can provide important anecdotal information to understand each student’s ability to create a connection between classroom and non-classroom experiences. Faculty can also play an important role in these co-curricular experiences and can assist in promoting student learning outside the classroom. Inviting faculty to take part in and/or facilitate educational programs for students demonstrates a commitment to learning through experiences, which compliments traditional classroom learning.
The “one-size-fits-all” program or experience is no longer relevant. The knowledge acquisition, integration, and application domain (ACPA et al.,2006) can help professionals develop programming that meets students at a variety of moral and cognitive levels to ensure that appropriate developmental connections are being made and that students are in a place where they are ready to respond to learning. Make sure to incorporate different learning styles into educational experiences and provide targeted educational experiences for different levels in the organization in order to supports development in this domain.
There are multiple ways that you can track student or community progress within the knowledge acquisition, application, and integration domain (ACPA et al., 2006). While tracking participation in programs might provide valuable insight as to whether students find value and are individually motivated to engage in meaningful educational experiences, the question remains: are students forced to attend programs or are they self-selecting to attend? Grade point average, while not effective as the sole measure of knowledge application, can provide insight as to how committed students might be to their classroom learning experiences. Using scoring rubrics, guided by the domain’s characteristics, can also measure learning through programs and documented conversations and can be effective in identifying knowledge acquisition. This can provide anecdotal and observational data about how students might be making cognitive connections, and can allow professionals to more pointedly address areas for further development. From a programmatic perspective, pre/post-test assessments can help you identify connections made through a specific length of time or from a specific educational experience.
Knowledge acquisition, application, and integration (ACPA et al,, 2006) requires that fraternity/sorority professionals demonstrate concern for a student’s entire undergraduate learning experience – both curricular and co-curricular - and that we are insightful enough to provide pathways to make learning more seamless.
ACPA, ACUHO-I, ACUI, NACADA, NACA, NASPA, & NIRSA. (2006). Learning reconsidered 2: Implementing a campus-wide focus on the student experience.
Washington, DC: American College Personnel Association and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.