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Tue Nov 20, 2018, 08:10 PM

Integration vs. Disipline-Based Approaches to Learning: Not an Either/Or

'There is a long-standing debate in education between discipline-based learning and integrated learning. Many of us remember classes we took in school that were discipline based—math, science, English, foreign language, history. If we reach back into our memories, we might remember a social studies class in elementary school—perhaps the closest we got to integrated learning. Now, STEM and STEAM curricula—as well as schools like High Tech High, which focuses on project-based learning—have put integrated learning back in the spotlight.

But the question still remains: Is it better to teach students using an integrated approach or a single-subject approach to curriculum and instruction? There are distinct benefits of each, and the answer we have found at Lowell is that when both approaches are skillfully and intentionally blended together a very powerful and effective learning environment is created.

For the purposes of this discussion, a single-discipline focus is the more traditional approach. Each subject is taught in isolation such as a math class using a curriculum that is designed to teach math skills and concepts. An integrated approach creates learning experiences that call on more than one discipline or subject such as cross-discipline assignments or units, project-based learning experiences, curriculum developed across a number of disciplines, and/or curriculum tied together with overarching themes and questions.'>>>


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