Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Teaching Malcolm Potts, Qatar University, February 2008 2. Benefits and Preparation.
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Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Teaching Malcolm Potts, Qatar University, February 2008 2. Benefits and Preparation
Benefits for Students Grade point average Motivation & satisfaction Engagement with "real world" issues Synthesis, problem-solving, teamwork Connections between the major & liberal education, between academics and their lives Career preparation
Affect on Students “A curricular experience in which students are required to integrate learning from separate courses around a central theme appears to elicit greater growth in critical thinking” (Pascarella & Terenzini) “The true core integrative approach to general education … [has] generally favorable effects on many of the … general education outcomes“ (critical thinking, writing, analytical thinking) (Astin).
Benefits for Faculty New teaching & cutting-edge research interests Faculty development Communicative & collaborative skills “Community“ of colleagues Integrative skills, sensitivity to ethical issues, enlarged perspectives
Benefits for the Institution New fields & careers New funding sources & community links Faculty recruitment & retention New collaborations Unique institutional identity Reform Competitiveness locally and in the Region Interdisciplinary Studies
Essential Faculty Traits Open to diverse ways of thinking Able to admit “I don’t know” Can model listening and self- reflection Flexible, comfortable with ambiguity Respects other disciplines
Integrative Faculty: Perpetual Learners Risk-taking Flexibility Patience Resilience Sensitivity to others Thick skin Care/Devotion Take new paths Preference for diversity
Preparing Faculty Encourage collaboration among faculty with common interests (social gatherings, study groups). Sit in on each other’s courses. Hold workshops for faculty across disciplines who are teaching same or related courses. Consult professional literature and organizations; bring in consultants. Use leaves, grants to develop faculty.
Preparing Students Highlight integration in all recruitment and other printed and web-based materials Hold orientation that focuses on the power of integration for incoming students Explain and reflect on the integrative nature of their college experience over & over
Course Planning Consider a definition of integration. Determine which disciplinary or other perspectives will be used. Assemble team of experts who can help. Try to let go of “coverage” model; focus on active engagement and process.
Focusing Your Course Themes Topics Comparisons Problems Issues Debates
Process of ID Inquiry (Klein) INITIAL PHASE a. Define problem b. Determine goals, objectives, questions CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK a. Devise a plan b. Gather all current and relevant knowledge SOCIAL LEARNING a. Clarify roles of team members b. Clarify differences in language, methods, tools
ID Process of Inquiry INTEGRATION a. Use known techniques for integration b. Triangulate depth, breadth and synthesis c. Reflect on learning
Integrating Content New holistic understanding through new metaphors, terms, principles “Borrowing” from one discipline and applying that information to another Conceptual framework Integrative action Creative integration Meta-goals of course
Integrating Content What opportunities do you see for integrating themes or concepts in your field with those in another discipline? We will come back to this….
Specific Challenges for Integration Distortion, misunderstanding of disciplines Use of data, methods, theories out of context Use of borrowings out of favor in their original context Illusions of certainty about phenomena treated with caution or skepticism in their original disciplines Over-reliance on one theory or perspective Dismissal of contradictory evidence
Have You Learned…? Benefits of Interdisciplinary Teaching Role, Traits of Integrative Teachers Focal Points of Integrative Courses Four Types of Course Designs Strategies for Integrating Content Challenges