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Interdisciplinary teaching

An introduction to different strategies that can be used to create opportunity for students to experience an interdisciplinary approach.
A student presenting in front of a class.
© University of York

From pandemics to pollution, people and the planet face many complex problems. These need to be placed in their social, political and economic reality to be understood. To do that well, we need to think about what science – as well as politics, philosophy and psychology, among other disciplines – can contribute to knowledge and ultimately to the resolution of problems.

In this course, we see interdisciplinary teaching as that which exposes learners to ideas, methods or knowledge from a science discipline and at least one other discipline, and integrates them in some way – for example:

  • Applying knowledge from politics to model how policies about new science are made and scrutinised.
  • Looking at the links between psychology and human behaviour to understand how science might be used.
  • Understanding the past using both historical and scientific analysis.

This means being familiar with knowledge, methods and pedagogical approaches from science and other relevant disciplines.

In Science Beyond the Boundaries, we are interested in creating opportunities for young people (aged around 16-19) to experience this interdisciplinary approach to science teaching. Here are some ways you can try out these methods in your school:

  • Teach a unit during subject lessons
  • Teach a unit during ‘enrichment’ lessons or days
  • Teach a unit to support Extended Project Qualifications (EPQ) that are often completed alongside A-Levels, or to support Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essays completed as part of an International Baccalaureate
  • Use a unit as an extracurricular activity
  • Co-plan or co-teach a unit with a colleague from another subject in a science lesson.
  • Co-plan or co-teach a unit with a colleague from another subject in non-science lessons.

In science, interdisciplinary perspectives can help develop awareness and understanding of scientific ideas and the practices and limitations of science in different contexts.

Over to you

  • Which of these opportunities do you think are the most appropriate in your context, and why?

Please share your thoughts with fellow learners in the Comments.

© University of York
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STEM Teaching: Teaching Science Beyond The Boundaries

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