In interdisciplinary research, it is important to integrate ideas, findings, methods or tools from two subjects. Successful interdisciplinary learning experiences yield productive, integrative understandings.
Interdisciplinary research requires students to develop the capacity to make deep and productive connections across subjects. Building interdisciplinary understandings requires more than merely “making connections”. Rather, it demands that students recognize:
For students to make careful analyses and meaningful connections, they need to know:
Successful integration of two or more subjects enables students to reach an understanding that they would not have achieved through single disciplinary means.
(For this 4,000-word essay, it is recommended that no more than two subjects are utilized.)
Focusing on integration involves being able to identify how, exactly, the concepts, methods, tools and genres of the disciplines combine productively. It invites students to ask important questions about what they learn and the subjects they engage with.
Building integrative understandings invites students to make a variety of cross-disciplinary connections. One consideration is key:
Integrative understanding is most powerful when it clearly addresses the question posed by the interdisciplinary inquiry. In particular, integration of disciplines should enable the students to achieve the understanding framed within the chosen research topic.
There are a huge variety of ways in which the disciplines can be brought together meaningfully to address a given question. These fall into four distinct categories:
As you read each description and associated example, consider the ways in which each particular form of integration may or may not apply to your students’ EEs.