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Pre-Collegiate Interdisciplinary Education

Pre-collegiate Education Study

This initial study examined principles and practices of quality curriculum design, instruction, and assessment in established pre-collegiate programs including the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge Course, St. Paul School's Humanities program, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School in Massachusetts, and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
A combination of semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and analysis of course designs and student work shed empirical light on issues such as: (1)  Preliminary parameters for a pedagogy for interdisciplinary understanding. (2).Effective strategies that faculty and program architects employ to integrate disciplinary perspectives in the classroom and the curriculum. (3) Assessment of student interdisciplinary work, its challenges and a proposed framework.

Experiments in Interdisciplinary Instruction
This multi-year study employed an action research approach to develop a pedagogical framework for interdisciplinary education at the pre-collegiate level. Through close collaboration with a select group of high school teachers, the study supported, documented, and analyzed the development and impact of carefully crafted experimental interdisciplinary teaching designs.

The project developed an empirically grounded pedagogical framework to teach for interdisciplinary understanding, and a collection of exemplary interdisciplinary units geared to teaching high school students about globalization through interdisciplinary means.

Our current analysis of a comprehensive data corpus including longitudinal teacher interviews, teacher seminar documentation, evolving unit designs, classroom observations, teacher interviews and narratives, student interviews and work, sheds empirical light on: (1) how teachers develop their ability to use interdisciplinary approaches (e.g., support structures needed, role of effective collaborations, the challenges involved in learning a new domain) and (2) how students move from less to more sophisticated interdisciplinary understandings, (e.g., learning challenges, effective strategies, developmental progressions).

Interdisciplinary Education in the Middle Years Program - in collaboration with the International Baccalaureate
Through close documentation of exemplary units of instruction in the International Baccalaureate, this project tested and adapted the Teaching for Interdisciplinary Understanding framework to develop a Teachers’ Guide and a series of courses to advance quality interdisciplinary instruction among young students. We explored the viability and learning demands of high level disciplinary and interdisciplinary work at the middle school level. 
Unit documentation included classroom observations, extensive interviews with students teachers and administrators. and analysis of student work. Participating schools included but were not limited to the International school of Amsterdam, St. Johns School in Buenos Aires, and the International School of Uganda. Excerpts of the guide are included under publications on this site.  

Teaching and Learning Together about the World - in collaboration with the International School of Uganda (ongoing)

This development project seeks to build a culture of inquiry among faculty and students in the International School of Uganda and four partner schools in the region. We seek to prepare teachers to nurture disciplinary and interdisciplinary understanding through systematic documentation and shared reflection about learning episodes in everyday teaching practices.

Through analysis of successful and unsuccessful practices we seek to understand the role of reflective documentation in the constitution of learning groups among teachers and students.

See also our related publications for the pre-collegiate ID education projects.