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Including everyone and boring no one : on the advantages and challenges of teaching interdisciplinary courses

Bengtsen, Peter LU (2013) Pedagogical Development Conference 2013
Abstract
For the 2012 Pedagogical Inspiration Conference for teachers at the Faculties of Humanities and Theology at Lund University, my course team and I presented a paper entitled “Interdisciplinarity, group responsibility and conflict as resources for learning”. The paper discussed our experiences with The City: Boundary Transgressions and Visual Expressions (KOVR02), an interdisciplinary course given in collaboration between the Division of Art History and Visual Studies and the Division of Social Anthropology. The paper was especially focused on group work, a teaching and learning activity which we found to be well suited to overcome some of the challenges that are inherent when teaching a body of interdisciplinary learners.

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For the 2012 Pedagogical Inspiration Conference for teachers at the Faculties of Humanities and Theology at Lund University, my course team and I presented a paper entitled “Interdisciplinarity, group responsibility and conflict as resources for learning”. The paper discussed our experiences with The City: Boundary Transgressions and Visual Expressions (KOVR02), an interdisciplinary course given in collaboration between the Division of Art History and Visual Studies and the Division of Social Anthropology. The paper was especially focused on group work, a teaching and learning activity which we found to be well suited to overcome some of the challenges that are inherent when teaching a body of interdisciplinary learners.



A recurring issue on interdisciplinary courses is that students often have very different levels of experience when it comes to the methods and theories particular to the involved disciplines. This diversity poses a challenge for the teacher who wants to include everyone but bore no one. The emergence of interdisciplinary courses and programmes (e.g. the SIM-courses and interdisciplinary master’s programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences), actualises questions about the advantages and challenges of interdisciplinarity and pedagogical strategies for including students with different disciplinary (as well as social and cultural) backgrounds.



For the 2013 Development Conference, I therefore propose a roundtable discussion which focuses on the exchange of experiences and ideas regarding the planning and teaching of interdisciplinary courses. While pedagogical theory is at the base of the discussion, I urge participants to first and foremost take this as an opportunity to openly discuss, and collectively reflect upon, their own practical experiences and teaching praxes (even if these have not previously been underpinned by profound reflections on pedagogical theory). Possible topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:



- The challenges and advantages you have experienced when teaching on interdisciplinary courses. (Do these differ from the perspective of the teacher and the learner?)



- Ways to overcome the challenges and benefit from advantages (e.g. ensuring the inclusion of all course participants).



- Strategies for increasing the likelihood of a satisfactory learning outcome for all course participants.



An example to get the ball rolling: apart from lectures, seminars, and workshops, on KOVR02 we have staged the interdisciplinary group work as a social context where participants can learn from, and instruct, one another. This approach offers additional support for learners who are unfamiliar with methods traditionally belonging outside of their own field, and simultaneously challenges more experienced learners by allowing them to take responsibility and becoming “ambassadors” for their own discipline. Evaluations have so far been positive, and group work seems to be an efficient way to negotiate the “experience gap”, which seems to be inherent on interdisciplinary courses. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
published
subject
keywords
excursion, learning by doing, methodology, group work, conflict, field study, method, interdisciplinary, group responsibility, art history, social anthropology, pedagogics, socialantropologi
categories
Higher Education
conference name
Pedagogical Development Conference 2013
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b242adad-55d4-4b23-a304-eef07b4d281d (old id 4194468)
alternative location
https://www.academia.edu/4976280/Bengtsen_P._2013_._Including_everyone_and_boring_no_one_on_the_advantages_and_challenges_of_teaching_interdisciplinary_courses
date added to LUP
2014-02-14 10:47:05
date last changed
2016-08-15 09:18:02
@misc{b242adad-55d4-4b23-a304-eef07b4d281d,
  abstract     = {For the 2012 Pedagogical Inspiration Conference for teachers at the Faculties of Humanities and Theology at Lund University, my course team and I presented a paper entitled “Interdisciplinarity, group responsibility and conflict as resources for learning”. The paper discussed our experiences with The City: Boundary Transgressions and Visual Expressions (KOVR02), an interdisciplinary course given in collaboration between the Division of Art History and Visual Studies and the Division of Social Anthropology. The paper was especially focused on group work, a teaching and learning activity which we found to be well suited to overcome some of the challenges that are inherent when teaching a body of interdisciplinary learners. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
A recurring issue on interdisciplinary courses is that students often have very different levels of experience when it comes to the methods and theories particular to the involved disciplines. This diversity poses a challenge for the teacher who wants to include everyone but bore no one. The emergence of interdisciplinary courses and programmes (e.g. the SIM-courses and interdisciplinary master’s programmes at the Faculty of Social Sciences), actualises questions about the advantages and challenges of interdisciplinarity and pedagogical strategies for including students with different disciplinary (as well as social and cultural) backgrounds. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
For the 2013 Development Conference, I therefore propose a roundtable discussion which focuses on the exchange of experiences and ideas regarding the planning and teaching of interdisciplinary courses. While pedagogical theory is at the base of the discussion, I urge participants to first and foremost take this as an opportunity to openly discuss, and collectively reflect upon, their own practical experiences and teaching praxes (even if these have not previously been underpinned by profound reflections on pedagogical theory). Possible topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:<br/><br>
<br/><br>
- The challenges and advantages you have experienced when teaching on interdisciplinary courses. (Do these differ from the perspective of the teacher and the learner?)<br/><br>
<br/><br>
- Ways to overcome the challenges and benefit from advantages (e.g. ensuring the inclusion of all course participants).<br/><br>
<br/><br>
- Strategies for increasing the likelihood of a satisfactory learning outcome for all course participants.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
An example to get the ball rolling: apart from lectures, seminars, and workshops, on KOVR02 we have staged the interdisciplinary group work as a social context where participants can learn from, and instruct, one another. This approach offers additional support for learners who are unfamiliar with methods traditionally belonging outside of their own field, and simultaneously challenges more experienced learners by allowing them to take responsibility and becoming “ambassadors” for their own discipline. Evaluations have so far been positive, and group work seems to be an efficient way to negotiate the “experience gap”, which seems to be inherent on interdisciplinary courses.},
  author       = {Bengtsen, Peter},
  keyword      = {excursion,learning by doing,methodology,group work,conflict,field study,method,interdisciplinary,group responsibility,art history,social anthropology,pedagogics,socialantropologi},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Including everyone and boring no one : on the advantages and challenges of teaching interdisciplinary courses},
  year         = {2013},
}