What is the difference between interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary education?

Interdisciplinary teaching refers to the concept of learning a single subject from multiple perspectives. Proven to boost learning outcomes and enthusiasm around learning, interdisciplinary teaching allows students to think critically, identify their own prejudices, accept the unknown and respect ethical quandaries. It also enables students to understand insights from different disciplines, synthesizes information surrounding a topic and, ultimately, offers a more complete understanding of an issue. Interdisciplinary teaching goes beyond multi-disciplinary or cross-disciplinary teaching, which only requires the consideration of different perspectives, and often requires collaboration between multiple educators to properly execute. Source: Interdisciplinary Teaching Definition and Meaning | Top Hat.

Transdisciplinary education is the education that brings integration of different disciplines in a harmonious manner to construct new knowledge and uplift the learner to higher domains of cognitive abilities and sustained knowledge and skills. An approach to curriculum integration that dissolves the boundaries between the conventional disciplines and organizes teaching and learning around the construction of meaning in the context of real-world problems or themes. International bureau of education

An integrated curriculum is described as one that connects different areas of study by cutting across subject-matter lines and emphasizing unifying concepts. Integration focuses on making connections for students, allowing them to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that can be connected to real life. Integrated Curriculum: Definition, Benefits & Examples …. https://naturez-vous.com/integrated-curriculum-definition-benefits-examples/

Defining Integrated Curriculum

What exactly is integrated curriculum? In its simplest conception, it is about making connections. What kind of connections? Across disciplines? To real life? Are the connections skill-based or knowledge-based? sourceMeeting Standards Through Integrated Curriculum by Susan M. Drake and Rebecca C. Burns

Deeper Conceptual understanding

While information and facts are crucial to a student’s success, what’s more important—but often underdeveloped because testing does not typically assess this—is the ability to find connections. When we teach for understanding and not memorization, we’re leveling the playing field and equipping students with the skills to succeed in the future. The ability to transfer skills and knowledge will be much more advantageous than information that might become irrelevant, and making this the primary focus will relieve the burden on students to try to memorize information separate from how it can be utilized in a project or real-world setting. Source: Getting Smart

Transfer of learning occurs when the student is motivated by the topic, motivated to learn, has previous knowledge on the subject, and knows how to connect new information to existing information. The learner must then be able to retrieve this information and apply it to new learning. A lot of breaks can happen in this chain, but if we model this formula in our teaching and make it a conscious process for students, then our learners stand a better chance of transferring that learning. Source: Larry Ferlazzo 

Curriculum integration is a student-centered approach in which students are invited to join with their teachers to plan learning experiences that address both student concerns and major social issues. In examining these issues, students draw on pertinent content and skills from many subject areas and acquire many of the “common learnings” or life skills essential for all citizens in a democracy.

The arguments

The literature on curriculum integration is extensive. Since the early 1990s, the National
Association for Core Curriculum (1991) has distributed a list of Selected References with 65
citations and also Recent Books on Integrative/Interdisciplinary Curriculum (published since
1990) with more than 75 titles (NACC, 2001). Succinct summaries may be found in Vars
(1987/1993) and Beane (1997) Source: CurriculumTesting Vars

I Psychological

A. Students are more highly motivated and learn better because integrative curriculum relates to their needs, problems, concerns, interests, and aspirations. (Faunce & Bossing, 1951/1958) B. Students learn better because integrative curriculum is more compatible with the way the brain works, thus enhancing the development of higher-order thinking skills. (Caine & Caine, 1991; Hart, 1983) II.

B. Students learn better because integrative curriculum is more compatible with the way the
brain works, thus enhancing the development of higher-order thinking skills. (Caine & Caine,
1991; Hart, 1983)

2 Sociological

A. Students are better prepared for life in contemporary society because integrative curriculum addresses current social problems in all their real-life complexity. (Van Til, 1976)

B. Students learn major concepts and processes of the disciplines through studying carefully designed integrated units. (Erickson, 1998; Jacobs, 1989)

3 Philosophical

A. Integrative curriculum provides a coherent core of common learnings essential for all citizens in a democracy. (Beane, 1997; Vars, 1969)

B. Integrative curriculum provides a meaningful framework for examining values. (Apple & Beane, 1995; Zapf, 1959)


Curriculum integration, in which students are directly involved in planning, conducting, and
evaluating their own learning, is a powerful way for middle level schools to demonstrate that
they are “developmentally-responsive.” Mandated high-stakes testing is a major threat both to
curriculum integration and to the middle level school’s commitment to meet the needs of young
Some reassurance can be drawn from six decades of research which shows that students in
interdisciplinary programs usually perform satisfactorily on standardized tests. How students will
do in the new state tests remains to be seen. But we have explained how it is possible to retain
significant features of curriculum integration, teach the most important state and district
standards, and do it all in a way that advances the ultimate purposes of education in a democracy.
Whether these efforts will be enough to “save” curriculum integration depends on how
committed we all are to the ideals of middle level education. Let us hope that we are up to the
task! Source: CurriculumTestingVars

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