Why Teach Students Using an Interdisciplinary Approach

There are many reasons to use an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. Research conducted by educational experts such as Allen Repko, show that interdisciplinary instruction and exploration promotes the aims of improving problem solving skills, self-confidence, gaining insights and more. Repko further concludes that this special type of teaching advances cognitive ability. Others, including Kavalovski in 1979, Newel in 1990 and Field in 1994 have uncovered several specific educational benefits due to interdisciplinary learning. This type of learning, when conducted at students’ school desks promotes:

  • The students’ ability to recognize bias
  • The students’’ ability to think critically
  • An improved ability to tolerate ambiguity
  • A greater appreciation and ability to understand ethical issues

According to Fink (2003) “significant learning” takes place at a greater level when there are more meaningful and prolonged classroom experiences occur. According to Fink’s findings, when teachers give their students a wide range of skills as well as insights about the educational process, students understand the meaning, and learning becomes more real to them. Fink showed six important aspects of the educational process which lead to what he called “significant learning.” Each one of these is a common part of interdisciplinary types of teaching.

  • Foundational Knowledge getting information and understanding the ideas behind that information
  • Application getting an understanding of how and when to use the learned skills
  • Integration – connecting ideas
  • The Human element – having an insight into the social and personal implications of issues
  • Empathy – understanding the roles feelings and values play in learning
  • Understanding what it means to ‘know how to learn’ – getting insights into how people acquire knowledge.