Using I.C.E. to build objectives and activities

It’s snowy and icy out–a perfect time to learn to use I.C.E. to build your learning objectives and activities for your courses and individual sessions. The I.C.E. model stands for “Ideas, Connections and Extensions,” and was developed by Dr. Sue Fostaty-Young and Dr. Bob Wilson here at Queen’s.  When you’re planning a session or a course, use the concepts of building from Ideas (or facts and recall), to Connections (higher order thinking processes of analysis and application) and to Extensions (even higher order thinking processes of evaluation and creation).  These will help you design activities that lend themselves to different levels of thinking and doing.

The I.C.E. Model:

Ideas Connections Extensions
Knowing about




  • Factual recall of basic information
  • Grasp of elemental concepts
  • (e.g. conventions, principles, procedures, trends, laws)


 Understanding how and why”




  • Recognizing general ideas across different contexts
  • Demonstrating relationships and connections among concepts
  • Connecting prior knowledge and experience


“Thinking Beyond”




  • Predicting future outcomes
  • Proposing solutions
  • Justifying a position
  • Evaluating outcomes
  • Designing or building something new
  • Changing contexts


 And, after planning the types of learning activities, here are some helpful verbs that will assist you in determining the learning objectives:

Verbs for I.C.E.

Ideas Connections Extensions







locate, recognize























Adapted from Fostaty Young, S. & Wilson, R.J. (2000). Assessment and learning: The ICE approach. Winnipeg, MB: Portage and Main Press.

Erickson, L. B. & Strommer, W.D. (1991). Knowing, understanding and thinking: The goals of freshman instruction. In Teaching college freshman (pp.65-80). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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