What Is Interdisciplinarity?
Interdisciplinarity is a concept that seeks the intersection between content from two or more disciplines to allow the student to develop a broader view of these themes. In this article we will provide you the advantages of interdisciplinary approach.
The interdisciplinary practice seeks to break with traditional patterns that prioritize the construction of knowledge in a fragmented way, revealing commonalities and favoring critical analyzes regarding the different approaches to the same subject .
According to the reflections of the author Hilton Japiassu, in the book “Interdisciplinarity and the pathology of knowledge”:
“We can say that we recognize ourselves in the face of an interdisciplinary enterprise whenever it manages to incorporate the results of various specialties , borrowing certain methodological tools and techniques from other disciplines, making use of the conceptual schemes and analyzes found in the different branches of knowledge, in order to make them integrate and converge, after having been compared and judged.”
Sound a little complex? Let’s go to an example.
In order to make a class aware of the adverse effects of fossil fuels, a high school Biology teacher decides to join his colleagues who teach Geography, History and Chemistry in an interdisciplinary project .
It all starts with research in History, which points to the origins of the use of mineral coal and oil as fuels by humanity.
In Geography, students recognize the main geopolitical conflicts triggered by the supply, demand and use of oil as a political weapon to force different countries to make decisions .
In Chemistry classes, the class develops activities to analyze the composition of fossil fuel molecules, their role in the worsening of the greenhouse effect and global warming .
Finally, the Biology professor shows how contact with coal and oil affects the lives of various organisms, in addition to the impacts of global warming for the extinction of species of flora and fauna.
By the end of the project, students will have learned much more about fossil fuels, the greenhouse effect, geopolitics and global warming than if they had studied the subjects separately.
This is because they will be developing analytical capacity, identifying connection points and contextualizing the relationship between relevant and current agendas.
What Is The Purpose Of Interdisciplinarity?
The main objective of interdisciplinarity is to provide tools to enrich students’ worldview .
From this approach, individuals of all ages understand that the same fact or theme can be observed and studied from different points of view.
This basis becomes a pillar for the construction of critical thinking that, instead of assuming any message as true, is able to question information, ascertain its veracity and accept that there may be more than one answer to the same question.
In other words, interdisciplinarity helps in the formation of well-informed and empathetic citizens , as it challenges people to put themselves in each other’s shoes to understand what is behind a belief.
This ability is also useful to avoid falling into traps such as the spread of fake news and to support empowered students.
This is because the transversality between the disciplines encourages children, adolescents, young people and adults to think for themselves , using their autonomy to see differentiated solutions to old problems – which leads to innovation .
With creativity, autonomy and curiosity, each individual feels safe to elaborate their repertoire and use it in the discovery of innovative answers.
How Did Interdisciplinarity Come About?
The current concept of interdisciplinarity emerged in the mid-20th century, when several authors published works questioning the fragmentation of knowledge transmitted in educational institutions.
It all started in the field of the human sciences , in view of the fact that, when placing the themes in certain disciplines, in an isolated way, the students had greater difficulty in seeing the whole and contextualizing these subjects.
This fragmented tendency predominated due to the mechanistic view of early modernity, which influenced schools to focus on models of knowledge specialization , as reported in this article :
“Above all because of the influence of the works of great modern thinkers such as Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Newton, Darwin and others, the sciences were being divided and, therefore, becoming specialized. Organized, in general, under the influence of naturalist and mechanistic currents of thought, they sought, from the Renaissance onwards, to build a more scientific conception of the world.”
In order to also offer a perception that includes the whole, showing the importance of paying attention to the dialogue between disciplines , authors such as Kapp, Piaget, Vygotsky and Gusdorf joined the movement to support interdisciplinarity.
What Is The Importance Of The Interdisciplinarity Methodology In Higher Education?
Gone are the days when most students were content to follow a schedule determined by educational institutions.
The current life dynamics, full of service options, has brought to light the demand for understanding the usefulness of what is learned .
One of the most valued assets nowadays is time , therefore, it is vital to know what the acquired knowledge will be used for, as it costs time, effort and dedication.
This maxim is even more urgent among those who attend Higher Education, since they are adults looking to connect with the world from a profession with which they identify.
Often, they want to express themselves and leave a positive legacy through the work and career they build, which increases the relevance of acquiring contextualized knowledge.
In this sense, betting on interdisciplinarity helps in the understanding and application of contents in a practical way, showing the reasons that led them to fit into the curriculum.
This is a way to demonstrate the importance of each discipline , especially the more theoretical ones, to train competent professionals prepared for the job market.
It also allows teachers and students to maintain a close relationship to develop valid knowledge that goes beyond the technical sphere to make a difference in the professional routine and, sometimes, even in the personal field.
How Does The Interdisciplinarity Methodology Work?
Interdisciplinarity can explore different types of methodologies, always based on the principle of approaching knowledge in an integrated way.
That is, it presupposes a less rigid pedagogical planning , which takes into account the particularities of students and groups so that they move from the current state (in which they are lay people) to the desired state (in which they dominate knowledge on a topic).
However, the process needs to be structured and guided by the educator, with defined phases for students to track their progress and celebrate the completion of each step.
In the end, the results tend to be different between one group and another, or even between members of the same group or class, as the solidification of knowledge depends on what was already known and on previous experiences.
According to the text “What is this interdisciplinarity?”, signed by the Master in Physics Teaching Patrícia Takahashi, one of the best known interdisciplinary methodologies is the Interdisciplinary Island of Rationality (IIR) .
The method is based on 8 flexible steps, which can be recombined or merged as the process develops.
The expert explains the phases as follows:
Step 1 – Poll Or Boilerplate
Its function is to present or define a theme together with the students.
It should clarify the duration and objectives to be achieved in solving a real problem.
Whenever possible, trying to participate and hold students accountable for the choices and decision-making in defining a project .
Step 2 – Investigation Overview
It defines the research question, who the participants are , the forecast of norms and possible restrictions for the development of the IIR and the product that results from it.
It is necessary to achieve a product that synthesizes the work developed, be it material, intellectual or virtual, for example.
Step 3 – Consultation With Specialists And Specialties
It develops disciplinary and procedural contents that are necessary to solve the IIR problem.
Step 4 – Departure To Practice/Field
It seeks information external to the institution , including museums, workshops and factories.
The idea is to present spaces of non-formal and interdisciplinary knowledge in nature.
Step 5 – Disciplinary Investigation
It is at this stage that the development of specific disciplinary content occurs.
It can be developed along with step 3.
It all depends on the specific needs of the group and the time available to carry out the IIR.
Step 6 – Organization Of Acquired Knowledge
Its function is to organize the elaboration of the product.
Step 7 – Product Development
It serves to finalize the product of the IIR.
Step 8 – IIR Synthesis
Finally, we have the synthesis, where the product is presented and evaluated, in addition to the results obtained in terms of mastery, communication and autonomy.
How Can Interdisciplinarity Be Applied In Higher Education?
One of the ways to include an interdisciplinary approach in colleges and universities is to follow the recommendations of the Law of Directives and Bases of National Education ( Law 9.394/1996 ).
Known as LDB, this norm encompasses National Curriculum Guidelines (DCN) that go beyond mandatory minimum curricula, established in a fragmented way by the MEC, to value flexibility and freedom of the actors involved in the teaching-learning process.
The tip is to organize resumes that contain:
- Permeability in relation to the changes that occur in the scientific world and in social processes
- Training in tune with social reality
- Perspective of continuing education throughout life
- Theory-practice articulation present in the inseparability between teaching, research and extension.
Therefore, it is vital to start with an interdisciplinary training for teachers, so that they share a systemic vision with their students, leaving aside the role of mere transmitters of content.
In this new scenario, educators must be able to decide, together with students, the most appropriate way to approach a topic, together with interesting tools for the construction of class knowledge.
On the other hand, university students must take the lead in their learning process , participating in decision-making, giving and receiving feedback about their experiences, useful points and which ones need improvement.
What Are The Advantages Of The Interdisciplinarity Methodology?
Below are the advantages of interdisciplinary approach.
Interdisciplinary methodologies represent a series of advantages for students, educators, educational institutions and for society as a whole, which gains citizens with an accurate critical sense .
Hence the transformative potential of the interdisciplinary method: little by little, it promotes empathy , solidarity and social inclusion , starting within schools, teaching centers and faculties.
The job market also benefits from qualified professionals with behavioral skills , especially flexibility and the ability to work in a team .
In this way, aligned teams are formed that drive relevant projects.
See below for other benefits of investing in interdisciplinarity.
1-Higher Quality In Learning
We are not saying that the curriculum that divides subjects under the domain of different subjects implies a decrease in the quality of learning.
However, the maladjustment and lack of information about the usefulness of each discipline and activity contribute to the alienation of the student, who becomes disinterested and less likely to learn, in fact.
That’s why many people simply go through classes in one or more subjects, unable to remember the contents a few months later.
To correct this route, interdisciplinarity presents demands that students elect as essential and important , combined in projects that bring together various subjects in favor of contextualized knowledge.
2-Stimulates Critical Thinking
We talked, before, about the importance of critical thinking to form people who are aware, empathetic and capable of ascertaining information.
By showing the various sides of a problem , interdisciplinarity favors this construction, exercising analytical capacity in a simple way.
3-Expands The Vision
When piecemeal curricula were created, the idea was to prepare the learner to become an expert in their field, which made sense as it met the demand in villages and small towns.
There, specific knowledge gave prominence to professionals, who rarely faced competition or needed to ally with other workers to execute a project.
But times have changed, and the systemic vision, which manages to envision the whole and the parts, has once again become significant for work and life .
By mixing disciplines and points of view, it is easier for the student to develop this broad vision.
4-Makes The Student Aware
Remember what we talked about above about the formation of critical thinking?
It only happens because access to different points of view leads to the student’s awareness of the importance of their actions and their impact on society.
It also highlights the inequalities that permeate social groups, prejudices and disparity in terms of opportunities and access to material, financial, intellectual resources, among others.
5-Supports Self-Responsibility And Empowerment
Critical training favors the empowerment of students and teachers, who assume the leading role in the teaching process, leaving aside the rigid curricula to prioritize effective knowledge .
That is, lessons and learning become a priority within spaces such as school and university.
Gradually, the learning dynamics can be reshaped to meet current demands with greater efficiency .
6-Helps Create Collaborative Environments
Today’s biggest projects require teamwork – a skill that is increasingly valued within contemporary organizations.
By unifying the work of teachers, the interdisciplinary approach sets an example of cooperation , fostering the creation of collaborative environments .
In this way, working in groups and helping each other become routine among students.
What Is The Difference Between Interdisciplinarity And Multidisciplinarity?
You may have heard of multidisciplinary teams , which include people with different areas of expertise to compose a team, each with its well-defined function.
This is a good example to define multidisciplinarity, a concept in which several disciplines come together in a punctual way, so that each one fulfills its own program .
We can say that this methodology is a step behind interdisciplinarity, which proposes a joint approach to achieve the same end – the acquisition of knowledge about a topic.
Therefore, the difference between interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity lies in the depth of integration between the disciplines and in the existence, or not, of a common purpose.
We hope you have got the advantages of interdisciplinary approach.