Interdisciplinary teaching and academic tasks: The perceptions of secondary school teachers.
AuthorYates, Jennifer Luretta.
AdvisorClark, Donald C.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this research was to determine whether tasks constructed for interdisciplinary classes reflect the teachers' understandings of the connections in their disciplines or remain the same as when they teach in their original disciplines. Secondary school teachers' perceptions of interdisciplinary teaching and academic tasks form the basis for this qualitative study. Teacher perceptions were gathered through a series of interviews with three teams currently teaching an interdisciplinary American Studies course. The exploration of interdisciplinary teaching and academic tasks in this study was used as a means of (a) discovering differences that teachers perceive between interdisciplinary teaching and teaching in their regular disciplines, (b) identifying the task elements inherent in the interdisciplinary tasks teachers describe, (c) identifying what tasks teachers perceive to be successful and unsuccessful, and (d) discovering how teachers interpret student performance on interdisciplinary tasks. Analyses of the subjects' responses revealed that successful interdisciplinary tasks seem to be related to the teachers' understanding of the connections in the disciplines and that unsuccessful tasks can be used frequently to identity gaps in a teacher's understanding. The findings of this study support the conclusion that interdisciplinary teaching is a complex task in which the teacher must display intellectual, management, and social skills. Teachers are challenged intellectually through the process of determining the connections in their subject matters and of creating materials to bring those connections to their students. Teachers' managerial skills are challenged as they learn to manipulate the double class, establish an appropriate pace, and provide engaging learning experiences. In addition, teachers face social challenges in the creation of a close working relationship with the other team member and a warm learning environment for a large group. The tasks that teachers structure carry the curriculum to their students and convey their present understanding of the combined discipline, one which is regarded as a new discipline by those in the study. As teachers continue to teach this "new discipline," their understandings become more complex and their assignments more truly interdisciplinary.
Degree ProgramTeaching and Teacher Education