Ignatian Pedagogy Tips for Faculty

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university dedicated to serving God by serving our students and contributing to the advancement of knowledge. Our mission, therefore, is the search for truth, the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the fostering of personal and professional excellence, the promotion of a life of faith, and the development of leadership expressed in service to others. All this we pursue for the greater glory of God and the common benefit of the human community.

Statement on Human Dignity and Diversity

As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Marquette recognizes and cherishes the dignity of each individual regardless of age, culture, faith, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, language, disability or social class. Precisely because Catholicism at its best seeks to be inclusive, we are open to all who share our mission and seek the truth about God and the world. Through our admissions and employment policies and practices, our curricular and co-curricular offerings, and our welcoming and caring campus environment, Marquette seeks to become a more diverse and inclusive academic community dedicated to the promotion of justice.

Our commitment to a diverse university community helps us to achieve excellence by promoting a culture of learning, appreciation and understanding. Each member of the Marquette community is charged to treat everyone with care and respect and to value and treasure differences. This call to action is integral to the tradition which we share.

The Goal of Jesuit Education

Ignatian pedagogy promotes:

  • The forming of men and women for others.
  • Producing well-rounded, intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving, and committed to doing justice students who are in generous service to the people of God.

Ignatian pedagogy flowchartSuch a goal requires a full and deeper formation of the human person, an educational process of formation that calls for excellence (a striving to excel, to achieve one's potential) that encompasses the intellectual, the academic and more. It calls for a human excellence modeled on Christ of the gospels, an excellence that reflects the mystery and reality of the Incarnation, an excellence that reveres the dignity of all people as well as the holiness of all creation. There are sufficient examples from history of educational excellence narrowly conceived, of people extraordinarily advanced intellectually who, at the same time, remain emotionally undeveloped and morally immature. We are beginning to realize that education does not inevitably humanize or Christianize people and society. We are losing faith in the naïve notion that all education, regardless of its quality or thrust or purpose, will lead to virtue. Increasingly, then, it becomes clear that if we in Jesuit education are to exercise a moral force in society, we must insist that the process of education takes place in a moral as well as an intellectual framework. This is not to suggest a program of indoctrination that suffocates the spirit; neither does it look for the introduction of theoretical courses which are speculative and remote from reality. What is needed is a framework of inquiry for the process of wrestling with significant issues and complex values of life, and teachers capable and willing to guide that inquiry.

Adapted from Ignatian pedagogy A Practical Approach (1993). Jesuit Institute.

  • Sample syllabus statements
  • Ignatian pedagogy elements
  • Sample reflection activities for students
  • Who was Ignatius of Loyola?
  • Ignatian pedagogy online modules
  • "Welcome Back" examen video
  • Discernment map

Excerpts from Ignatian Pedagogy, A Practical Approach

Education in faith and justice begins with a reverence for the freedom, right and power of individuals and communities to create a different life for themselves. It means assisting students to enter into the sacrifice and joy of sharing their lives with others. It means helping you, specifically in this class, to discover that what you most have to offer is who you are rather than what you have.

In this class, we will cover content specific to the course description but we will also help you understand and appreciate that other people are your richest treasure. We will walk together in our journeys toward greater knowledge, freedom and love.

This course, as part of the larger Jesuit tradition, will help to transform how you look at yourself and other human beings, at social systems and societal structures, at the global community of humankind and the whole of natural creation. If truly successful, we will engage in a radical transformation not only of the way in which people habitually think and act, but of the very way in which they live in the world, men and women of competence, conscience and compassion, seeking the greater good in terms of what can be done out of a faith commitment with justice to enhance the quality of peoples' lives, particularly among God's poor, oppressed and neglected.

Ignatian Year Syllabus Paragraph

The Ignatian Year begins Thursday, May 20, 2021, the 500th anniversary of when Ignatius the soldier was injured by a cannonball in the Battle of Pamplona, a moment that instigated a change of heart and attested to God's constant invitation of grace to all of us at each moment.

The Ignatian Year is an opportunity for our community to look back in gratitude for all that has transpired in the last 500 years. Just as well, we look forward in hope, recognizing the privilege of being a part of something greater than ourselves and uniting in the rich traditions and origins of a Jesuit education, all for the greater glory of God, Ad majorem Dei gloriam.


Courtesy St. Louis University. This link contains a sample course syllabus template using the Ignatian Pedagogy Paradigm. This supports your design of a syllabus that reflects best practices and layers in the IPP to ensure deep learning.

Making the Jesuit experience distinctive


Who are our students and what can we expect them to bring to the course? Will they have a background in the subject matter, know how to use the requisite technology, have study skills or experience in the content?

  • What needs to be known about learners (their environment, background, community, and potential) to teach them well? In the Jesuit tradition this is referred to as Cura personalis—personal care and concern for the individual and requires that faculty become as conversant as possible with the context or life experience of the learner.
  • Educators must know as much as possible about the actual context within which teaching and learning take place.
  • Faculty need to understand the world of the learner, including the ways in which family, friends, peers, and the larger society impact that world and affect the learner for better or worse.
  • Here is an EXAMPLE of “Getting to Know your Students” from Harvard University’s Instructional Moves


What is the best way to engage learners as whole persons in the teaching and learning process and how will you motivate students to internalize and experience concepts? What types of content presentations will be the most effective for their experience or background?

  • Faculty must create the conditions whereby learners gather and recollect the material of their own experience in order to distill what they understand already in terms of facts, feelings, values, insights and intuitions they bring to the subject matter at hand.
  • Faculty later guide the learners in assimilating new information and further experience so that their knowledge will grow in completeness.
  • Faculty creates different types of activities such as dialogue, discourse, debate, role plays, simulations, field trips, service projects, reading, lectures in a way to help students integrate the learning that occurs in the classroom with those of their home, work, peers etc.
  • Activities and assignments are presented to help students make connections between concepts, their lives, and the world around them. This includes explaining to students WHY they are doing particular activities, such as homework, projects, and exams (most students have no idea that instructors carefully choose course activities to increase student learning. This means that they are often unmotivated and do the minimum work necessary. It also means that they are not "learning how to learn," which is an extremely valuable skill).
  • Here is an example of “Fostering a Culture of Valuing Different Ways of Thinking” to ensure a safe space for learning in complicated times, build on the concept of a ‘collective brain,’ or a collaborative, participatory learning process.
  • Here is an example entitled “Inviting Students to Take a Stand and Disagree" in order to create space for disagreement in the class in a way to support student growth academically and personally.


What kind of guidance will be best for getting students to reflect on not just what they have learned, but what that content means to them, how it changes their view of themselves and the world, and how it calls them to action on what they have learned?

  • How may learners become more reflective so they more deeply understand what they have learned?
  • Faculty lay the foundations for learning how to learn by engaging students in skills and techniques of reflection.
  • Memory, understanding, imagination, and feelings are used to grasp the essential meaning and value of what is being studied, to discover its relationship to other facets of human knowledge and activity, and to appreciate its implications in the continuing search for truth.

ACTION (What’s Next):

How do we compel learners to move beyond content knowledge to action?

  • How do we compel learners to move beyond knowledge to action?
  • Faculty provide opportunities that will challenge the imagination and exercise the will of the learners to choose the best possible course of action from what they have learned.
  • What they do as a result under the faculty's direction, while it may not immediately transform the world into a global community of justice, peace and love, should at least be an educational step towards that goal even if it merely leads to new experiences, further reflections and consequent actions within the subject area under consideration.
  • Example of Active Learning Techniques to promote whole student learning.
  • How to bring action to develop empathy to lead to change practically? Watch this video on the value of virtual reality as a way to move reflection to change and back to reflection in your classroom. Download the New York Times Virtual Reality app (NYTVR) to bring the world to your class.


How will assessments and feedback guide students through their own learning and how do we assess learners’ growth in mind, heart, and spirit in equitable ways?

  • How do we assess learners’ growth in mind, heart, and spirit?
  • Quizzes, weekly or monthly tests and semester examinations are familiar instruments to assess the degree of mastery of knowledge and skills achieved.
  • Ignatian pedagogy, however, aims at evaluation which includes but goes beyond academic mastery to the learners’ well-rounded growth as persons for others.
  • Observant faculty will perceive indications of growth or lack of growth in class discussions and students’ generosity in response to common needs much more
  • Ignatian pedagogy demands equity and justice in the classroom including assessment. Evaluate the following:
  • At the close of a lesson or section, ask your students to identify what they think was the main idea. Alternatively, have students in small groups discuss their own perspective on the main idea of the lesson just completed. This provides them with the opportunity to think aloud as they reflect on the lesson. Give them room to make interpretations. In addition, ask your students to explain why this is a main idea. This represents not only a review, but a quest to really figure out what is at the heart of the matter.
  • Pose a problem or a question and tell your students that you do not want an immediate answer. You want students to take some time before answering, and you want them to do some research and reflection along the way. One approach is to pose the “Question of the Week.” Students have time to do some reading, to discuss the question with each other, find experts, etc. Each student should write down their thoughts in order to bring focus to the discussion. The question or problem posed should relate to the context of the ideas, skills, knowledge, and values being studied by the class. This type of activity allows students to make connections as you build in a reflective component to the course of study. context experience reflection action evaluation context experience reflection action evaluation
  • During class time, pose a question to your students. Give them a few minutes to write down their thoughts. After they have had time to think through their ideas alone and commit those ideas in writing, place the students in discussion pairs. Allow students to share their ideas with their partner. Now expand the discussion groups so that two pairs are put together to from groups of four. After students have had an opportunity to share in a group of this size, move to groups of 8, 16, and finally to full class size. By the time you reach full class size, every student will have had ample opportunity to think about and discuss the question, thus providing several rehearsals for the discussion in which you lead the entire class. This repeated practice underscores the fact that discussion questions must be probing questions that are worth going over several times.
  • In a blended or online course, have students keep blogs in which they reflect on what they've learned and/or on the process of learning a concept or skill in your class. Blogs have the advantage of being completed outside of class time, where you really want them reflecting on their learning, as well as of some other advantages: you can comment on them and push the reflection to an even deeper level, and they can build all semester, so both you and your students can look back to earlier lessons and deepen the connections between different moments of reflection and learning.

More than decision making, discernment is an intentional, life-long process of determining what brings a person closer to their authentic self. The discernment map is a visual representation of that process, requiring students to identify key people, moments, and events that guided them to their current position and to consider how and why these people, moments, and events were influential. The discernment map activity has two parts, the map itself and a reflection, and they can be used together or separately. Suggested rubrics and student examples are included. 

Adapted from:

Korth, S. J. (2008). Precis of Ignatian pedagogy: A practical approach. In W. Traub (Ed.), A Jesuit education reader. Chicago, IL: Loyola Press.

Tips for Practicing Ignatian Pedagogy: Reflection Assignments, St. Louis University, 2018.