Issues in Interdisciplinary Studies Volume 20 (2002)

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    Interdisciplinarity as Self and Subject: Metaphor and Transformation
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    This paper is based on our experience of team teaching an interdisciplinary course on multicultural families. We propose a theoretical model to demonstrate collaborative teaching that trasverses multiple disciplines. The model, presented as a heuristic metaphor and using geological imagery to capture the dynamic nature of interdisciplinary experience, emphasizes the liberatory and transformative interaction between self and subject. Components of the model are exposing the fault lines, mining the motherlode, sorting epistemological treasures, and forging new gifts. We demonstrate each stage of the model and show how students and teachers made new discoveries about interdisciplinarity at each stage.
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    Response to the Keynote Address by Dr. Allen Hammond, "Globalization That Works for Everyone: What Would It Look Like?"
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
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    Rules Are Not the Way to Do Interdisciplinarity: A Response to Szostak
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    An alternative view is offered to Szostak’s (2000) multi-step guide to doing interdisciplinary research. Interdisciplinarity is presented as an intuitive process instead of Szostak’s step- or rule-based process. To support the view that interdisciplinarity is an intuitive process, the actual process used in a published interdisciplinary article is compared to Szostak’s steps. Only some of Szostak’s steps are found to apply, and most of these seem applicable in a post-hoc fashion rather than as guides during the process. It is argued that the choice between a step- or rule-based process and an intuitive process is more than personal preference or style. Post-positivist views of science are reviewed that show that science is largely an intuitive process. It is further proposed that if this is true for science—one of the most rational and logical discipline clusters—then it should be equally true for interdisciplinarity. Even though interdisciplinary work is intuitive, steps or rules may have some use, although a list of them would be unlimited.
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    Strategies for Using Interdisciplinary Resources Across K-16
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    Across the K-16 system of primary, secondary, and post-secondary education, the need for interdisciplinary resources is widespread. Resources are dispersed, however, across disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and professional forums, as well as the “gray” or “fugitive” literature of conference papers, teaching materials, program reports, working papers, and other unpublished work. We enlarge the conventional notion of “resources” by defining six major areas and activities that will yield a portfolio of materials and strategies for teaching, curriculum planning, and administration. They encompass (1) primary literatures, (2) professional organizations and related publications, (3) specialized literatures, (4) networking, (5) electronic database searching, and (6) professional development.
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    How to Do Interdisciplinarity: Integrating the Debate
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    This paper develops a twelve-step process for interdisciplinary research. While individual researchers cannot be expected to follow all of these steps in every research project, the process alerts them to the dangers of omitting steps. Moreover, communities of interdisciplinary researchers should ensure that all steps are followed. The process draws upon earlier efforts by William (Bill) Newell and Julie Thompson Klein. It also draws inductively upon the debate concerning Newell’s theory of interdisciplinarity in the last issue of this journal; all of the concerns raised during that debate find a place in this process. Finally, the paper illustrates how several classifications developed by the author facilitate interdisciplinary research.
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    Interdisciplinary Program Assessment
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    Interdisciplinary studies programs and the assessment movement are two parallel educational paradigms, both of which are maturing at a pace that is noticeably deliberate. Idealistic in inception, they are simple in concept, nuanced in practice, and focused on student learning rather than on professorial teaching. Idealism and subtle complexities in interdisciplinary thinking contribute to a belief that assessment is too simplistic to court interdisciplinary studies and has little business here. This paper questions the veracity of that belief and offers some research-based assessment approaches that may sanction an acceptable, if not lusty, marriage of the two paradigms.
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    Educational Connoisseurship, Criticism, and the Assessment of Integrative Studies
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    How we might help students “synthesize” or “integrate” and then assess the process has continued to perplexed educators. This paper examines how “educational connoisseurship” and “educational criticism,” as described by Elliott W. Eisner, may be applied to this complex task. First I review the suggestions made by Benjamin S. Bloom and his committee of college and university examiners in 1956 and point out some of the difficulties in using “primary trait analysis.” I then explain some ways to apply Eisner’s model and suggest four additional ways that educators might apply the philosophy inherent in Eisner’s approach to develop students’ ability to synthesize: Use of Exemplars, Team Assessment, Control of Time and Timing, and Student Involvement.
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    "Navigating the Disciplinary Fault Lines" in Science and in the Classroom: Undergraduate Neuroscience Classroom in Mind, Brain and Behavior at Harvard
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    This paper explores the key elements of success in the interdisciplinary teaching of neuroscience, using the example of two undergraduate seminars offered by the Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB) program at Harvard University. These elements include students’ and faculties’ disposition for boundary-crossing, their intellectual breadth and ability to cope with unanswered questions in science, and the particular organization of the curriculum which was designed to keep the students at the crossroads of many competing theories and to stimulate a search for synthesis. An institutional commitment to developing interdisciplinary curricula in neuroscience in the form of the MBB Interfaculty Initiative also serves as an important foundation for interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The two MBB seminars provide models of integrative curriculum in neuroscience, as instructors in the classroom reenact the actual interdisciplinary debate that defines the field of neuroscience itself. Founded on a belief in the inherent unity of the mind and the brain, neuroscience tries to find the connecting tissue between psychological and biological theories of the mind/brain. Keeping the search for a unified theory central to the discussion in the classroom, asking students to test the explanatory limits of each contributing discipline, and discussing the shortfalls of current integrative mind/brain thinking, instructors in both seminars are able to spark an interdisciplinary dialogue of the most compelling nature.
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    Intuition and Interdisciplinarity: A Reply to Mackey
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
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    Assessment Outcomes and Forays in Interdisciplinary Curriculum Development
    (Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002) Wentworth, Jay; Sebberson, David
    An interdisciplinary course titled Issues in Ecology and Environment was developed and taught by an anthropologist and an oceanographer at Florida Gulf Coast University beginning spring 1998. Focusing on cognate interdisciplinary competencies rather than diverging disciplinary content, this collaboration also yielded working definitions of several integrating learning outcomes—an ecological perspective being chief among these. As part of the course development, authentic assessments, cooperative group activities, and opportunities for experiential learning using ecosystems located on campus were developed. Post-assessment debriefings were used to solicit student feedback as part of a continuous improvement model for the course. By structuring the course to target learning outcomes that transcended disciplinary traditions, the instructors were able to look beyond disciplinary barriers toward a point of convergence and benefit from the new perspective.