The Qualitative Report

The Qualitative Report

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The Qualitative Report Volume 11 Number 1 March 2006 1-19

Moving from Separate Subject to Interdisciplinary 1 Teaching: The Complexity of Change in a Preservice Teacher K-1 Early Field Experience
Janet C. Richards and Kim T. Shea
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

This phenomenological inquiry looked at 28 preservice teachers as they participated in a field-based curricula restructuring initiative that connected the disciplines of creative arts, science, and reading. The preservice teachers offered weekly interdisciplinary lessons to kindergarten and first grade students. A survey, teaching cases, and a group exit interview informed the study. Throughout most of the semester, the preservice teachers struggled with procedural and pedagogical content knowledge, concerns directly related to effective teaching. By the end of the semester, they felt comfortable teaching interdisciplinary lessons. Results suggest that preservice teacher curricular restructuring efforts are complex and that teacher educators need to consider the perspectives preservice teachers bring to the change process. Key Words: Curricular Restructuring, Interdisciplinary Lessons, Phenomenological Inquiry, and Teaching Cases

Driven by a search for a new “coherence and integrity in the teacher education curriculum” (Fang & Ashley, 2004, p. 39), scholars now recommend that preservice teachers acquire abilities to organize academic disciplines around broad, interdisciplinary, themed topics of study. An interdisciplinary themed approach has the potential to introduce preservice teachers to a unified constructivist view of learning as they develop understanding of relationships among subjects (Mendolsohn & Baker, 2005). Interdisciplinary teaching also has the potential to foster democratic school changes needed in a multicultural society when students from diverse cultures engage in collaborative inquiry and decision-making...

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