Interdisciplinary teaching is a method, or set of methods, used to teach a unit across different curricular disciplines. For example, the seventh grade Language Arts, Science and Social Studies teachers might work together to form an interdisciplinary unit on rivers. The local river system would be the unifying idea, but the English teacher would link it to Language Arts by studying river vocabulary and teaching students how to do a research report. The science teacher might teach children about the life systems that exist in the river, while the Social Studies teacher might help students research the local history and peoples who used the river for food and transport. Team teaching
What is the Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching and Learning? This approach to teaching requires planning that looks at the foundational objectives of a number of curriculum areas. Connecting curriculum in the interdisciplinary approach is an efficient way to help teachers deal with knowledge that grows at exponential proportions (Jacobs). A unit of study that uses the interdisciplinary approach enables teachers to teach the whole student and make links between disciplines. One goal for this approach is to give students a more relevant, less fragmented, and stimulating experience (Jacobs, p. 10). What is its purpose?
The purpose of this approach is to dissolve the boundaries of areas of study and encourage learning across the curriculum. Educators must develop a plan where they can see the natural areas for integration and develop thematic units. Student learning outcomes should include a well-rounded education where critical thinking and transfer of knowledge is evident with the school and the outside world. A constructivist approach to learning where creative thinking processes are developed within a meaningful context will enhance the student's education and encourage lifelong learning. How do I plan and teach an interdisciplinary unit?
Develop a plan and use the Interdisciplinary Concept Model (Jacobs and Borland 1986) as a guide. 1. Choose a topic-concepts such as observations, patterns, light, revolution, humor, flight, pioneers, the future, and world hunger have proven highly effective (Jacobs). 2. Brainstorm for ideas that can be organized onto an interdisciplinary concept model. This model has the theme in the center and the subject areas are explored in relation to the theme. 3. Guiding questions are developed to serve as scope and sequence. The questions are general and should transcend discipline lines (Jacobs p.60). After the questions have been developed the activities that explore the questions can be developed. Hayes Jacobs (1989) recommends that Bloom's Taxonomy can be used to develop a matrix that ensures higher-level thought processes. 4. There are also activity plans that can be used to develop activities. * Unit: Habitat:1. Do birds come to our park?
* Knowledge: Identify birds in our park
* Comprehension: Observe bird behavior
* Application: Chart the species
* Analysis: Compare the behavior
* Synthesis: Build a birdfeeder
* Evaluation: Appraise its effect
What is Interdisciplinary Teaching?
* learn more about the attributes of interdisciplinary teaching
Why Teach In an Interdisciplinary Fashion?
* An emerging viewpoint in higher education emphasizes that a thorough understanding of today's real life problems requires interdisciplinary reflection. For instance, when society and policymakers address the question of whether to raise the minimum wage they will certainly draw from economics, theories of social justice and social psychology. Clearly, insight from a single disciplinary framework is not sufficient to help resolve such a complex issue. Students who are regularly exposed to classroom conversations and assignments that tackle real-world problems in an...
References: * Froderman, Robert, Julie T. Kline, and Carl Mitchman, eds. Oxford Handbook on Interdisciplinarity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2009.
* Klein, Julie T., Humanities, Culture, and Interdisciplinarity: The Changing American Academy. Albany State University of New York Press, 2005.
* Klein, Julie T., "Resources for Interdisciplinary Studies." Change (March/April 2005): 52-58.
* Repko, Allen. Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory. Los Angeles and London: Sage, 2008.
* Woods, Charlotte. "Researching and Developing Interdisciplinary Teaching: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Classroom Communication" Higher Education. Vol. 54 Issue 6, p. 853-866. Dec. 2007.
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