Researching the interdisciplinary curriculum : the need for ‘translation devices’

POUNTNEY, Richard and MCPHAIL, Graham (2017). Researching the interdisciplinary curriculum : the need for ‘translation devices’. British Educational Research Journal, 43 (6), 1068-1082.

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This paper discusses the conceptual and methodological challenges facing two researchers investigating the development of interdisciplinary curricula in two new secondary schools, one in the UK and one in New Zealand. It is a discussion of research in progress that will be of interest to readers because of both the methodological challenges discussed and the research area itself. The key issue we identify is one for both researchers and teachers: how might the concepts and perspective of one discipline be brought into a relationship with another to enable deep learning? This question in turn highlights a key methodological challenge: developing the means to describe and evaluate new forms of curricular design and implementation where a traditional discipline-based curriculum has been rejected in favour of interdisciplinary ones. The integrative aims of interdisciplinarity are also examined. We employ Bernstein’s (2000) concept of knowledge structures and languages of description to theorise a continuum of approaches to curriculum integration, from functional to principled. This methodological manoeuvre is made possible by the development of a translation device. This procedural mechanism makes accessible to analysis the organising principles that are in play in the interdisciplinary curriculum design practices we have observed. We conclude with recommendations for the interdisciplinary curriculum researcher.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Department of Teacher Education
Identification Number:
Page Range: 1068-1082
Depositing User: Richard Pountney
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 11:50
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 14:16

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