IDENTITIES – Integrate Disciplines to Elaborate Novel Teaching approaches to InTerdisciplinarity and Innovate pre-service teacher Education for STEM challenges
Motivation and overarching questions
Teachers and teacher educators have a disciplinary background and, usually, they are not educated to an interdisciplinary fruitful dialogue, required by the new emerging needs. In the current debate on STEM education, the meaning of interdisciplinarity is vividly discussed. In IDENTITIES we assume that the search for the meaning of interdisciplinarity cannot ignore the meaning of “disciplines” and their epistemological identities.
The term discipline contains the Latin root discere, whose meaning is to learn. Hence, disciplines are re-organizations of the knowledge with the scope of teaching it and have been built to help students to make gradually sense of different categories of problems, approaches, tools and criteria to evaluate the correctness and efficiency of a procedure, a reasoning, an argument. From this perspective, disciplines can still play a relevant educational role.
How can we save the potentialities of disciplines and help new teachers to deal meaningfully with interdisciplinarity? What strategies are necessary to prepare university students who will become the teachers of tomorrow to deal with such new challenges in upper secondary school (students aged 15-19)?
The main goal of the project is to build innovative and transferable teaching modules and courses to be used in contexts of pre-service teacher education (e.g. curricula in Physics Education, Mathematics Education or Computer Science Education within Master’s degree courses). The central theme of the modules is interdisciplinarity in STEM fields, with a focus on the links and interweaving between physics, mathematics and computer science. Specifically, the modules will be constructed to provide prospective teachers with professional skills to be used in the design and implementation of teaching activities for upper secondary school.
Key-aspects of innovation
The innovation key-aspects of IDENTITIES concern:
- two types of interdisciplinary topics: a) advanced STEM topics, intrinsically interdisciplinary (e.g. climate change, artificial intelligence, quantum applications) whose teaching requires the support of new materials; b) interdisciplinary curricular topics concerning “border problems” aimed to make the disciplines more engaging, relevant and meaningful.
- the approach to interdisciplinarity, explicitly aimed to overcome two forms of trivialization: interdisciplinarity as a-disciplinarity (comprised only of transversal themes) or interdisciplinarity as an instrumental use of concepts taken from one discipline (for example mathematics) to solve a problem formulated in another discipline (for example in physics). The respect of the epistemological IDENTITIES of the single disciplines and the search for an emergent “epistemology of interdisciplinarity” are the basic principles for the modules design;
- the choice to analyse interdisciplinarity also through the lens of linguistics, to compare languages of different communities and recognise common discourses emerging from them and “languages of interdisciplinarity”.
The most innovative aspect of the design concerns the idea of using, in the modules, “epistemological and linguistic activators”, that are epistemological and linguistic concepts or themes able to activate a meta-level of analysis from which the disciplines can be observed, compared and intertwined, moving back and forth the details and the big picture.
The partnership (formed by 5 Universities from 4 different countries) will strictly collaborate to produce five Intellectual Outputs:
- Teaching modules on emergent interdisciplinarity in advanced STEM topics
- Teaching modules on curricular interdisciplinary topics
- Guidelines to design and implement modules on curricular interdisciplinarity and STEM emerging interdisciplinarity in pre-service teacher education
- Open Education Resources for Blended modules and MOOCs
- Recommendations for policy makers to promote interdisciplinarity and innovate prospective teachers education for STEM challenges