Friday, May 26, 2017

Week 31 - Professional Context - Crossing Boundaries

What does interdisciplinary collaboration mean?
Andrews (1990) defines interdisciplinary collaboration as occurring "when different professionals, possessing unique knowledge, skills, organizational perspectives, and personal attributes, engage in coordinated problem solving for a common purpose" (cited in Berg-Weger &. Schneider, 1998).
While multidisciplinary collaboration involves paralleled work of several disciplines, interdisciplinary practice may include interprofessional interactions in which two or more disciplines collaborate in the process of “joint planning, decision-making, and goal-setting”(American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2016, p.1)

Why do you need to know about this?Interdisciplinary practice allows individuals who are based in their practice discipline(s) to focus on collaboration and participate in finding solutions to the increasingly complex problems occurring in the world today. When working in an interdisciplinary manner we can draw on multiple perspectives, practices, epistemologies and methodologies to identify how these can be utilised to solve real world problems. Hardre et al ‘s (2013) study shows some benefits from an interdisciplinary learning community include innovative thinking, metacognitive awareness and critical practice.

THIS WEEK’S ASSESSMENT ACTIVITYActivity 7: My interdisciplinary connection map
Create a blog post where you first draw a map which demonstrates your current and potential interdisciplinary professional connections. You can choose to create your map with a digital tool (for example:, coggle, or draw with pen and paper and submit a picture to the portal.
Identify one of the potential interdisciplinary connections from your map as your near future goal.
Then, critically discuss the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary practice in relation to the identified connection.
Following these steps may help:
Step 1: Identifying your current and potential interdisciplinary connections.
Identifying your current and potential interdisciplinary connections. If you are early childhood and primary educators, since you are teaching all areas of the curriculum, you may find the interdisciplinarily connections you have are with a variety of professionals such as social workers, health professionals or speech and language therapists, etc. These outside education experts may give you different inputs and perspectives to your interdisciplinary approach in your teaching.

Secondary teachers are more commonly discipline-based and your interdisciplinary collaborations may involve working with teachers from other departments to create interdisciplinary learning experience for the students. To have some examples of how interdisciplinary learning can be implemented in a curriculum, read page 13 of this article “The logic of interdisciplinary studies” or view this Edpuzzle video “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Science”
Then draw the map that demonstrates your current and potential interdisciplinary connections.
You can use these digital tools such as, coggle, or draw with pen and paper.

Step 2: Select one of the potential interdisciplinary connections from your map as your near future goal.
And use these questions to guide your thoughts:
Who may you have the interdisciplinary connection with?
How might the joint planning, decision-making, and goal-setting take place?
This “A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration” post recommends the model for working towards a successful interdisciplinary approach in your practice that you can adopt.
Then, critically discuss the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary practice in relation to the identified connections. View the first 3 minutes of thisInterdisciplinarity and Innovation Education as the interviewees explained the benefits of implementing interdisciplinary collaboration.

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from

- The idea of combining two or more disciplines, pedagogical approaches, groups of people, or skills is not new. First appearing in curricular contexts in the 1920s under the title 'core,' interdisciplinary and integrated curriculum have been widely associated with the progressive education movement (Oberholzer, 1937; Vars, 1991).
- Some curricular integration has been fairly widespread (although not without controversy), as in the case of whole language, which became popular in the late 70s. Whole language emphasizes language instruction through immersion in authentic use instead of through rote learning of isolated words and sounds (Altweger, et al., 1987; Dybdahl & Shaw, 1993).
- Generally, educators are jumping on the bandwagon without adequately questioning the nature of the dissatisfaction with discipline-specific approaches, or taking the time to shape a coherent approach to interdisciplinarity
- Learning was not simply the accumulation of facts but was believed to induce the restructuring of the learner's cognitive structure or organization (Marzano, 1991).
- The reaction against integrated curriculum has not been a reaction to the content, but a reaction to the critical attitudes engendered through the pedagogy (Cohen, 1978).
- Recently, however, research in cognition and projected demands from the 21st century workplace have brought new pressures that have turned the tide once again to a more connected vision of the curriculum
- Both brain response and higher-order thinking tasks were found to demand authentic, complex, multiple, and concrete problem-solving experiences (Caine & Caine, 1991; Iran-Nejad, 1994; Marzano, 1991). This, coupled with espoused workplace needs, which have advanced that all students need the skills to adapt, analyze, organize, and interpret fast-paced, multidimensional information, has promoted a more integrated approach to vocational and academic tracks, and has influenced how such essential skills as writing, reading, critical thinking, and problem solving are to be disbursed within and across the curriculum (Burns, 1995; Brunkhorst, 1991; Dwyer, 1995).
- interdisciplinarity seeks to combine disciplines to enhance the learning in one or more of the disciplines, or to apply discipline-based methods to real life situations, integration seeks to transcend the disciplines toward a more interconnected vision of the universe.

Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach - Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI7 (26), 76-81. Retrieved from
- The interdisciplinary approach synthesizes more than one discipline and creates teams of teachers and students that enrich the overall educational experience. 
- Though it has many advantages such as, expanding student understanding and achievement between all disciplines or enhancing communication skills, it also has disadvantages, such as integration confusion and time-consuming curriculum preparation. 
-the interdisciplinary approach is uniquely different from a multidisciplinary approach, which is the teaching of topics from more than one discipline in parallel to the other, nor is it a cross disciplinary approach, where one discipline is crossed with the subject matter of another. Interdisciplinary techniques go beyond these two techniques by allowing students to see different perspectives, work in groups, and make the synthesizing of disciplines the ultimate goal. 
- Often the definition of interdisciplinary integrates team-teaching as a technique in which teachers from multiple disciplines work with each other to design a curriculum, instruct the class, and grade teams of students for time periods that can possibly extend to more than one year. Though it seems like a great idea, having more than one instructor can create problems in the sharing of responsibilities.
- Julie Klein warns that team teaching can be associated with problems such as "lack of 'sufficient time for collaboration work'", "lack of training In group dynamics", "overlapping roles", "territorial and status conflicts", and "inadequate funding" (Haynes, 2002, p.18)
-interdisciplinary teaming not only had a positive effect on students learning, but also inhibited personal growth (2004, p.1). Students learned tolerance for their peers as well as leadership and collaboration skills. The study found that the majority of students found the experience beneficial and that the students "spoke of long-term relationships and of a democratic learning environment that honored their voices and empowered them as learners” (Boyer and Bishop, 2004, p.6).
-Boehm explains fundamental disciplines such as Geography and History by stating, “ teachers rarely teach the two subjects in an integrated fashion, and American children’s understanding of both subjects suffers (Boehm, 2003).
- Taylor concludes that “Interdisciplinary work by both educators and students may broaden students' knowledge of history and diverse cultures. Including the arts in social studies instruction may have pedagogical benefits as well because the inclusion would facilitate differentiated instruction” (Taylor, 2008). 
-Students who are taught with an interdisciplinary technique in which the students master higher order thinking skills and integrated pedagogy become very attractive to top colleges and wealthy business.
- As the interdisciplinary approach continues to synthesize the characteristics and methods of multiple disciplines while developing lifelong learning skills,

ThomasMcDonaghGroup. ( 2011, May 13). Interdisciplinarity and Innovation Education.[video file]. Retrieved from

Ross Institute. (2015, July 5). Ross Spiral Curriculum: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Science. [video file]. Retrieved from

Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24) Interdisciplinary Learning [video file]. Retrieved from

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