ERIC Number: ED414602
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997
Reference Count: N/A
The Interdisciplinary Continuum: Reconciling Theory, Research and Practice. Report Series 2.36.
Adler, Mary; Flihan, Sheila
Although interdisciplinary teaching has long been supported as a pedagogical practice, little research has looked closely at interdisciplinary teaching. A literature review was undertaken, therefore, to articulate the current theoretical understanding of interdisciplinary education and to examine how it influences practice in middle and high schools. Four questions were considered: What is interdisciplinary education?; How do the disciplines interrelate in practice?; What facilitating and/or problematizing factors impact interdisciplinary instruction?; and What are its effects upon students, teachers, and the school environment? A broad range of articles on interdisciplinary programs in grades 5 through 12 were examined, under the following headings: (1) language and vocabulary associated with interdisciplinary education; (2) types of disciplinary combinations described in the literature; (3) what actually happens in classrooms using interdisciplinary approaches; (4) factors that facilitate interdisciplinary programs; and (5) influence of interdisciplinary programs on teachers and students. For the review's purposes, an interdisciplinary continuum is composed of three ways of knowing that represent stages of disciplinary blending. Knowledge moves from being correlated (stage one) to being shared (stage two) to being reconstructed (stage three) along a continuum in which the disciplines move from being distinct and separate, to being combined with boundaries preserved, to being blended until disciplinary distinctions are no longer evident. Findings suggest that issues in literacy, curriculum, assessment, and institutional support are all of primary importance in effective interdisciplinary programs. Also, an interdisciplinary curriculum forces teachers to reconsider their role as expert/teacher of a single discipline. (Contains a figure showing the continuum model, 4 tables, and 63 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, Albany, NY.