Teaching and learning to think and work across disciplinary and professional boundaries

Last month we co-organised a symposium on interdisciplinary teaching and learning at The Sciences and Technologies of Learning Research Fest. As some colleagues were asking for access to our slides, we have uploaded them into our “slideware”. There are two presentations:

The first presentation “Teaching people to think and work across disciplinary and professional boundaries” comes from the symposium session (Symposium abstract is below). In our presentation, we provided an overview of the “zoo” of different definitions, taxonomies and classifications of interdisciplinarity and inter-professionalism. Most of these ideas are based on chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. We also introduced some current discussions about the “shapes” of interdisciplinary expertise. Brief explorations of these ideas could be found in the linked pages about T-shaped and E-shaped people.

taxonomies of interdisciplinarity

The second presentation “Learning to work across boundaries – opportunities for research and innovation” was a summary (by Lina) of the symposium – as part of the Research Fest’s closing plenary discussion. It briefly outlines our view of: i) what interdisciplinary skillfulness looks like, and ii) what kinds of educational research could help us to improve interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

interdisciplinarity skilfulness

The sketch presented of interdisciplinary skillfulness mainly builds on ideas from our Epistemic fluency book and also on some our experiences of teaching people to lead learning, innovation and change in the Masters of Learning Sciences and Technology program. (We will post some materials about this soon.) The last two slides – while they were not presented during the session – are about some key methodological challenges in researching interdisciplinary learning. Over the last two decades, the learning sciences domain has seen the emergence and uptake of Design-Based Research (DBR) and, more recently, Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR) methods. Research on/for interdisciplinary learning requires us to move beyond traditional DBR or DBIR to methods that embrace enactive, developmental approaches, such as we see in the emerging field of developmental evaluation. In short, understanding and designing to enhance interdisciplinary skillfulness is a part of interdisciplinary skillfulness.

Abstract: Teaching people to think and work across disciplinary and professional boundaries

Organisers and invited discussants: Lina Markauskaite, Peter Goodyear, Marie Carroll, Tina Hinton, Philip Poronnik, Kim Bell-Anderson, Simon Poon

Developing students’ capacities to work in multidisciplinary teams, communicate effectively with people across traditional professional boundaries, and solve complex real-world issues are a priority area for future enhancements of university teaching. But what is really involved? What kinds of capacities do students actually need for working effectively across disciplinary and professional boundaries? What kinds of interdisciplinary teaching and learning models are effective? What kinds of teaching and learning approaches are most productive for enhancing students’ capacities? How can we validly and effectively assess students’ mastery of various interdisciplinary skills?

In this session, we will share some insights from recent research and teaching, as a stimulus to discussing experiences and practical action in this space. If there is sufficient support, we envisage forming an action research group to collaborate in innovative educational R&D over the next few years.

If you are interested in this challenging area but can’t/couldn’t attend the event, please send us an email and we will keep you informed.

2 responses to “Teaching and learning to think and work across disciplinary and professional boundaries

  1. Thank you for this post, and for sharing your ideas on this exciting line of research!
    We have recently published a paper called “Boundary Breaking for Interdisciplinary Learning” that is very relevant to your work, and would be happy to collaborate in future endeavors in this direction.

    Link to our paper: http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/26496


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