Interdisciplinary study and integrative learning - a search for evidence

Malone, Aileen (2011) Interdisciplinary study and integrative learning - a search for evidence. [Conference Proceedings]


An interdisciplinary field is a field of study that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. In 1995 U.C.C. became the first University in Ireland to introduce a BA in Early Childhood Studies (BAECS), provided by Applied Social Studies, Applied Psychology, Education and Paediatrics and Child health working together in partnership.Recognising that addressing one aspect of childhood was insufficient,and that the vision of all disciplines needed to be understood and appreciated, we worked towards integrative learning possibly without explicitly acknowledging that goal and gradually came out from behind our disciplinary shields.The question: Is there evidence of integrative learning within the child health research project of the BAECS. In the opinion of the teachers what barriers exist to integrative assessment?The enquiry: Content analysis of the subject matter of titles and abstracts of a sample of projects from 2008-2010 (180 in total) reviewed selected from those available. Looking for themes of health, psychology, applied social and education in the manifest and latent content. Exploration of their opinion of barriers to integrative assessment as experienced by three teachers.Results: Some learners were integrating material from different disciplines without explicit instruction. Mature learners, those with prior experience with children and those achieving higher overall marks for this assessment showed greater evidence of integration. These students did not necessarily achieve high marks in other assessments. The primary barrier to integrative assessment was felt to be the modular structure and attendant FTE.Conclusions. Learners are capable of integration, student characteristics of prior experience and maturity make integrative learning more apparent. More conventional assessment either may not allow learners to show evidence of a capacity to integrate or may not value it. Existing modular structures and “ownership” may limit the capacity for integrative assessment.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf]
NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf

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