Interdisciplinary Challenges (Teaching and Learning)

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Annotated Bibliography

Link to Complete Bibliography
For a complete bibliography, please visit the CTLT's shared folder on Refworks.

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  • Bray, N. M., & Others, A. (1981). The interdisciplinary team: Challenges to effective functioning. Teacher Education and Special Education, 4(1), 44-49.Ubc-elink.png

Questionnaire responses of 205 professionals on interdisciplinary teams serving disabled students indicated perceptions of few major problems in team functioning. Overall, Ss viewed logistical/procedural barriers of more concern than group interactional or discipline-related categories.

  • Cummings, R. J. (1989). The interdisciplinary challenge: Connection and balance. National Forum: Phi Kappa Phi Journal, 69(2), 2-3.Ubc-elink.png

For perspective on the interdisciplinary challenge in higher education, it is important to understand the concept and origins of the "discipline." Disciplines are convenient but artificial constructs, and while academia may be divided into them, the world is not. A sense of the balance and connection between them is vital.

  • Gance, L. L., & National Inst for, S. E. (1998). Understanding interdisciplinary teamwork: Challenges for research and practice. workshop report.Permalink.svg Permalink

In November 1997, the National Institute for Science Education (NISE) brought together for a two-day conference faculty members of NISE, individuals who have special expertise or experience pertaining to interdisciplinary collaboration and problem solving and representatives of research projects addressing the topic of interdisciplinarity. The purpose of the conference was to advance understanding of interdisciplinary teamwork and to identify areas for further research. This report provides a synopsis of the issues and ideas that emerged during the conference, including key questions for research, the role of theory in research--particularly theoretical frameworks within the field of cognitive science, methods and methodology, and other general issues. In addition, the report reviews implications for practice of what is known about interdisciplinary collaboration and important considerations for designing effective environments for such collaboration.

  • Holley, K. (2009). The challenge of an interdisciplinary curriculum: A cultural analysis of a doctoral-degree program in neuroscience. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 58(2), 241-255.Ubc-elink.png

Drawing on data collected through 45 interviews with faculty, doctoral students, and administrators affiliated with an interdisciplinary neuroscience program, I examine the structure of the interdisciplinary graduate curriculum. The data presented here highlight the challenge of such programs. I review the purpose, organization, and content of the interdisciplinary curriculum, noting those challenges that arise. Not only do such programs require collaboration among faculty who traditionally has been highly invested in their individual discipline or department, but they also require an active, deliberate process to foster interdisciplinary integration and student learning.

  • Holley, K. A. (2009). Special issue: Understanding interdisciplinary challenges and opportunities in higher education. ASHE Higher Education Report, 35(2), 1-131.Ubc-elink.png

The goal of this volume is to provide an overview of interdisciplinarity and American higher education. It focuses on the impact of interdisciplinary work related to the functions of teaching, learning, and research. The landscape of higher education contains multiple areas where such a process might run afoul. For example, how does interdisciplinary research affect standards of faculty tenure and promotion? How do colleges and universities encourage integration among students and faculty located in separate, often isolated departments? How do institutions construct an interdisciplinary course of study that requires students to interact with faculty and areas of knowledge from multiple disciplines? What cognitive, cultural, and social challenges exist as scholars seek to achieve an integrative synthesis? To consider these questions, this special issue discusses interdisciplinary education, research, and practice. This special issue includes the following chapters: (1) Defining Interdisciplinarity; (2) The Disciplines, Interdisciplinarity, and the University; (3) Interdisciplinarity, Learning, and Cognition; (4) Interdisciplinarity and the Practice of Research; (5) Faculty and Institutional Structure: The Conflict of Interdisciplinarity; (6) Best Practices Related to Interdisciplinary Education; and (7) Implications for Practice and the Future of Interdisciplinarity.

  • Lin, H. (2008). Opportunities and challenges for interdisciplinary research and education. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 37, 83-91.Permalink.svg Permalink

Interdisciplinary research and education (IDRE) holds center stage in current academic discussions. Despite the widespread agreement on the promises of IDRE, barriers for effective IDRE implementation remain significant. This study explored the opportunities and challenges of IDRE in integrated soil and water sciences at the Pennsylvania State University through a faculty survey and an educational project. The study revealed that: (1) co-advising graduate student is a common practice as a means of IDRE, and the overall positive aspects out-weigh the negative aspects; (2) joint faculty appointments receive mixed reactions, and are viewed by some as advantageous for the university but difficult for the faculty; (3) people issues are absolutely a critical aspect of successful IDRE; however, IDRE could also be accomplished by small groups or individuals; (4) synergistic approaches have not yet been commonly implemented, because IDRE collaborations often consist of faculty continuing piece-meal contributions independent of one another; (5) a new/renewed interdisciplinary undergraduate program in integrated soil and water sciences remains questionable as a viable solution to the declining undergraduate enrollment; (6) a potential new and broader graduate program appears to be promising, with a possible target on the emerging Critical Zone science (an interdisciplinary science that advocates the holistic studies of the Earth's near-surface environments, which extend from the top of vegetations to the bottom of aquifers); and (7) reward system needs to be enhanced to truly facilitate IDRE, and should be considered as a focus from both administration and practicality points of view. It is hoped, through such a study, that more true synergies can be realized through enhanced IDRE in academic environments.

  • Locker, K. O. (1994). The challenge of interdisciplinary research. Journal of Business Communication, 31(2), 137-51.Ubc-elink.png

Discusses what makes business communication research interdisciplinary and why interdisciplinary research is difficult yet desirable. Details the value of interdisciplinary concepts, methods, and perspectives. Notes how business communication research might be made interdisciplinary and points out the need for tolerance in interdisciplinary research.

  • Mellor, M. J., Hyer, K., & Howe, J. L. (2002). The geriatric interdisciplinary team approach: Challenges and opportunities in educating trainees together from a variety of disciplines. Educational Gerontology, 28(10-), 867-80.Ubc-elink.png

Health care workers at eight sites were trained to serve on interdisciplinary geriatric care teams. Challenges included differing levels of experience and geriatric knowledge, discipline specific-language and practice philosophies, and scheduling conflicts. Techniques to overcome them included case studies, standardized patients, cross-discipline role-play, glossaries, and a personality profile instrument.

  • Wineburg, S., & Grossman, P. (2000). Interdisciplinary curriculum: Challenges to implementation.Ubc-elink.png

The reputed merits of the interdisciplinary curriculum movement are explored in this collection of works by leading educators. Context is laid out in the introduction, "When Theory Meets Practice in the World of School," by Pam Grossman, Sam Wineburg, and Scott Beers. The chapters are as follows: (1) "On Disciplinary Lenses and Interdisciplinary Work," by Veronica Boix Mansilla, William C. Miller, and Howard Gardner; (2) "Hunting the Quark: Interdisciplinary Curricula in Public Schools," by Judith Renyi; (3) "Scenes from a Courtship: Some Theoretical and Practical Implications of Interdisciplinary Humanities Curricula in the Comprehensive High School," by Sam Wineburg and Pam Grossman; (4) "Disciplinary Landscapes, Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Case Study," by Frederick L. Hamel; (5) "Curricular Conversations in Elementary School Classrooms: Case Studies of Interdisciplinary Instruction," by Arthur N. Applebee, Robert Burroughs, and Gladys Cruz; (6) "The Photosynthesis of Columbus: Exploring Interdisciplinary Curriculum from the Students' Perspectives," by Kathleen J. Roth; (7) "The Subjects of Debate: Teachers' Clashing and Overlapping Beliefs about Subject Matter During a Whole-School Reform," by Karen Hammerness and Kay Moffett; (8) "'...So That the Two Can Mix in This Crucible': Teachers in an Interdisciplinary School-University Collaboration in the Humanities," by Gabriella Minnes Brandes and Peter Seixas; and (8) "Restructuring Knowledge: Mapping (Inter)Disciplinary Change," by Leslie Santee Siskin.

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