Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum – Anuraj Soni
This is not new and has been in practice for decades now. Let's first define what it is? Also called Linked Learning, this is an "Instructional method and materials for multidisciplinary teams of teachers to organize their instruction so that students are encouraged to make meaningful connections across subject areas" (source: http://www.connectedcalifornia.org/). Various subject teachers collaborate to plan and present lessons around a central theme or issue. Let's take an example: In order to teach transportation, which is one integrated theme, it is currently often taught across different subjects like Maths, Science & English. In multidisciplinary method it is taught as one concept covering various modes of transportation, calculation of speed, distance etc and mechanics of various vehicles thereby combining concepts from various subjects into one curriculum design. To top it up course plans often cover field trips, interaction with real-life career professionals in various fields of the transportation industry and participation in various research activities.
Goals of a Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum
- Shift from Passive to Active Learning— Both Flipped Classroom and Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum shifts classroom instruction from passive to active, thereby engaging more students in the learning process. There is a lot of focus on problem solving than on having students follow the instructional content. Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum further focuses on solving & understanding real life career focused issues through collaboration & peer learning.
- Educate & Train at the same time - Traditional instructional content & delivery is often criticized for being very distant from the demands of real-life & career situations. Academia often brushes aside this criticism by citing that the goal of academia is to educate and not train. Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum achieves both education and training by having students engage with professionals who address exciting and challenging problems in their jobs. Integrated curriculum also provides students with knowledge of a wide variety of career-related fields by creating research opportunities and career connections with professionals in many jobs within a career area.
- Reach a Diverse Population— Students who participate in integrated curricula are able to express their own interests, demonstrate their unique skills, and master high-level academic and technical material by applying a variety of learning styles.
What is needed now ?
Curriculum units are currently designed to address key learning objectives identified by the school authority. However, there is barely any standardization in this area, perhaps an area for future research. It would be good to see learning objectives based on topics and difficulty for each grade (transportation-Level 1 for Grade 1, etc. )
- A. Steinberg (1997). Real Learning, Real Work. New York: Routledge
- Case study from a school that practices this method