Integration of the Disciplines
Role of the Teacher
| Integrated Teaching Models | Change | Teaming and Partnerships |
The student who can begin early in life to see things as connected has begun the life of learning. The connectedness of things is what the educator contemplates to the limit of his (or her) capacity.
                                      - Mark Van Doren

The role of the teacher in an integrated teaching and learning environment is to assist students with making connections and therefore finding meaning through an educational process. Making this process a reality, means that education should be student centered. Howard Gardner (1994) in his book Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom states that multiple intelligence theory opens the door to a wide variety of student-centered teaching strategies.

Multiple Intelligence theory suggests that there is no one set of teaching strategies that will work best for all students all the time. Because of these individual learning styles or differences, teachers are best advised to use a broad range of teaching strategies with their students. According to Gardner, more and more educators are recognizing the importance of teaching students from an interdisciplinary/thematic point of view. The key feature of this teaching strategy is that it is immediately recognized by the student as relevant and meaningful. This teaching strategy is certainly in keeping with the goals of teach and learn about our world and the knowledge and skills necessary to act responsibly within and upon it.

It is with the classroom ecology that teachers must also concern themselves. It is incumbant upon a teacher to ask the hard questions about the factors in the classroom which promote or interfere with learning, and the elements absent from the learning environment that could be incorporated to facilitate student learning.

According to Dewey (1916) the core of the teaching process is the arrangement of environments within which the students can interact and study how to learn. The Dewey School was created in 1896 to meet these goals. The link in the line above is dedicated to elementary teaching and learning based on the philosophy of John Dewey.

A model of teaching is simply a description of a learning environment. These descriptions have many uses, ranging from curricula, courses, units, lessons, physical space, equipment and/or tools. Some models of teaching have broad applications, while others are designed for specific purposes.

If you examine the politics of curricula and instruction you will find that neither is politically neutral. Their are always internal motivations and external pressures to create learning environments and teaching models for specific purposes. You as a teacher will need to filter through these motivations and pressures in order to create an integrated teaching and learning model.

Developing Integrated Teaching Models

Designing integrated teaching models is a creative process. But, there are certain curriculum development models or instructional design processes which have been successful in the past and I believe can be successful in developing contemporary integrated curricula and instruction. Designing, developing, implementing and evaluating this curricula and instruction is a fundamental role of the teacher in an integrated learning environment.

These instructional design processes range from the traditional behavioral models of instructional design (i.e., Taba, 1962; Dick and Carey, 1990) to the newer models derived from the implications from cognitive science (i.e., West, Farmer, and Wolff, 1991), brain-based learning (Caine and Caine, 1994), interdisciplinary inquiry (Martinello and Cook, 1994), and constructivist learning theory. Any of these models can be used to guide the development of integrated instruction, and have been.

You will put these processes into practice as you continue to explore this course. You will be introduced to various processes for developing integrated curricula and learning materials.


We would be remiss if we did not dedicate a part of this course to the change process. Change is not easy, and if you are contemplating changing the teaching and learning environment to an integrated one, this may come with some difficulty. The difficulty is probably related to the process of change, as much as it is with the process of instructional design.

Teaming and Partnerships

Teaming and partnerships are also very important to creating successful integrated teaching and learning environments. Since you are commonly responsible for an institutional "classroom", you are not generally teaching in the world of work. OK, you could argue that the institutional classroom is a work place, but does it authentically emulate the business, industry or agency work places and cultures? Generally...NO. Even though you may attempt to simulate the real world in your classroom, it is virtually impossible to create an authentic work place environment.

Therefore, to insure that the instruction you use is integrated and contextual, and relates to the real world, you will need to create teams and partnerships. These teams and partnerships can be created to assist you with developing integrated curricula and learning strategies, and provide opportunities for students to engage in meaningful learning directly in a work place environment (apprenticeships, internships, etc.).

Dr. Mark L. Merickel
© Copyright 1998
All rights reserved
School of Education
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR