Interdisciplinary learning emphasizes connections between traditionally discrete disciplines such as math, science, history, and language arts, rather than limiting learning to one content area at a time.
When teaching and learning are organized around themes, problems, or issues, students seek knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines to provide an expanded and more complex understanding of the topics they are studying.
When done well, interdisciplinary learning eliminates the fragmentation and the learning of isolated skills. It allows students to access a particular theme from different entry points as they work with a range of sources of information and perspectives; it also allows teachers to better differentiate instruction and create more interesting and rich methods of assessment.
Research has demonstrated that interdisciplinary teaching can increase students' motivation for learning as well as their level of active engagement. In contrast to learning skills in isolation, when students participate in interdisciplinary learning they recognize the value of what they are learning and become more involved in it.
Furthermore, studies show that students learn more when they apply a variety of skills to what they are studying and when they interact with their classmates, teachers, and members of the community.
The Center for Ecoliteracy advocates for interdisciplinary teaching and learning as the best approach for grasping the principles that help define sustainable living. Our publications, seminars, and ongoing work with schools take an interdisciplinary approach.