27 SES 06 B, Subject Integrated Teaching and Vocational Training
Across Europe, modern curricula describe ‘interdisciplinary competences’ as important goals of student learning at secondary school and in higher education (OECD, 1998). Interdisciplinarity can be defined as an approach in which learners utilize modes of inquiry drawn from two or more subjects. It is marked by an ability to evaluate multiple approaches and integrate knowledge from different subjects to solve complex problems in ‘real world’ contexts (Rychen & Salganik, 2003; Weinert, 1998).
This paper presents an empirical study of a learning environment designed to foster interdisciplinary competences in English and Nutritional Science. Students learn to understand and discuss important issues related to their eating habits in a foreign language. The specific topic is ‘healthy living and healthy breakfast’, which is a focus-point of secondary education: the latest HBSC study (Health Behaviour of School Aged Children) has shown that young people often tend to skip breakfast in a mistaken attempt to lose weight. In Switzerland, only 44% of 14 year old girls and 50% of boys have breakfast every school-day (Currie et al., 2012). This issue needs to be addressed urgently.
In this learning environment, the goals are for students to (1) acquire reading and writing competences in English; (2) to understand the nutritional principles of preparing a healthy breakfast; and (3) be able to connect knowledge from the two subjects to solve complex, interdisciplinary problems. It is innovative at the level of its task design (Keller & Bender, 2012). The two partner-subjects are not combined into one (as in project-learning or CLIL), but the connection is made by ‘prompts’ and ‘links’ alone, respecting the realities of school learning, which is still organized as separate subjects in most European countries.
Prompts are defined as recall and/or performance aids which are based on the central assumption that students already possess important concepts and processes to solve problems, but do not recall or execute them spontaneously (Bannert, 2009, p. 141) . In our study, students are regularly called upon to use existing knowledge from the 'partner-subject’ to solve problems in the other one. In English, for example, they may be prompted to use the food pyramid from Nutritional Science to analyse the nutrients of a full English breakfast of eggs, sausages and fried mushrooms.
Links are performance aids concerning future learning and understanding, and were designed specifically for this project: Students are asked to carry a question over into the partner subjectand get to the bottom of it there. For example, they read about different breakfast-styles in different countries in English, note questions they have and then analyse them in the Nutritional Science class.
The learning environment thus promotes ‘horizontal connectedness’, a term used by OECD to characterize innovative approaches to learning (Dumont et al., 2010). This means that the curriculum is organised around real world problems instead of separate subjects, and that learning goals combine areas of knowledge from different subjects, connecting the classroom to the world outside.
Bannert, Maria (2009): Promoting Self-Regulated Learning Through Prompts. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 23 (2), 2009, 139–145 Currie, Candace; Zanotti, Cara; Morgan, Antony et al. eds. (2012): Social determinants of health and well-being among young people: Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC). Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe Diehl, Joerg M. (1999a): Ernährungswissen von Kindern und Jugendlichen. Verbraucherdienst, 44, p. 282-287 Diehl, Joerg M. (1999b): Ernährungswissen von Kindern und Jugendlichen. Verbraucherdienst, 44, p. 282-287. Anhang: Literatur und Test Dumont, Hanna; Istance, David; Benavides, Franciso (2010): Executive Summary. In: Dumont, Hanna; Istance, David; Benavides, Franciso (eds.) (2010): The nature of learning. Using research to inspire practice. CERI Centre of Educational Research and Innovation. OECD, p. 13-18 Heyn, Susanne; Baumert, Jürgen; Köller, Olaf (1994): Kieler Lernstrategien-Inventar KSI. Kiel: IPN Keller, Stefan; Bender, Ute (in press): Test of connected knowledge in English and Nutritional Science Keller, Stefan; Bender, Ute (eds.) (2012): Aufgabenkulturen. Fachliche Lernkulturen herausfordern, begleiten, reflektieren. Seelze: Klett/Kallmeyer KET - Key Englisch Test (2011): Past Paper Pack. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press OECD (1998): Interdisciplinarity in Science and Technology. Directorate for Science and Industry. Paris: OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Rychen, Dominique; Salganik, Laura (2003): “A holistic model of competence”, in Rychen, D. and Salganik, L. (Eds), Key Competencies for a Successful Life and Well-Functioning Society, Hogrefe and Huber, Cambridge, pp. 41-62 Weinert, Franz E. (1998): Neue Unterrichtskonzepte zwischen gesellschaftlichen Notwendigkeiten, pädagogischen Visionen und psychologischen Möglichkeiten. In: Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Unterricht, Kultus, Wissenschaft und Kunst (ed.): Wissen und Werte für die Welt von morgen. Dokumentation zum Bildungskongress. München: Bayerisches Staatsmin. für Unterricht, Kultus, Wiss. u. Kunst, p. 101-125
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