Subject Overview: Interdisciplinary Unit
Interdisciplinary learning can take place between different subject groups and between different disciplines within a subject group to encourage broader perspectives on complex issues and deeper levels of analysis and synthesis. Interdisciplinary connections must be meaningful.
In the MYP, interdisciplinary learning is the process by which students come to understand bodies of knowledge and modes of thinking from two or more disciplines and then integrate them to create a new understanding. Students demonstrate this by bringing together concepts, methods or forms of communication to explain a phenomenon, solve a problem, create a product or raise a new question in ways that would have been unlikely through a single discipline.
MYP schools must engage students in at least one collaboratively planned interdisciplinary unit in each year of the MYP in order to integrate knowledge and skills from two or more subject groups in an interdisciplinary manner.
The aims of interdisciplinary learning in the MYP are to:
- develop a deeper understanding of learning skills and apply them in meaningful contexts
- integrate conceptual learning, ways of knowing and methods of inquiring from multiple disciplines
- inquire into compelling issues, ideas and challenges by creating products or explaining phenomena
- reflect on and communicate understanding of the interdisciplinary learning process
- experience the excitement of intellectual discovery—including insights into how disciplines complement and challenge one another.
Each interdisciplinary learning objective corresponds to one of four equally weighted assessment criteria. Each criterion has eight possible achievement levels (1–8), divided into four bands with unique descriptors that teachers use to make judgments about students’ work.
Criterion A: Disciplinary grounding
Students must understand disciplinary concepts and skills—as framed by MYP subject-group objectives. This disciplinary grounding provides the foundation for interdisciplinary understanding.
Criterion B: Synthesizing
Students integrate knowledge from more than one discipline in ways that inform inquiry into relevant ideas, issues and challenges in order to explain phenomena or create products.
Criterion C: Communicating
Students select, integrate or innovate communication forms and strategies to explain the results of their inquiries. They develop the capacity to communicate effectively and responsibly with a range of audiences.
Criterion D: Reflecting
Students evaluate the role of disciplines, weighing their relative contributions and assessing their strengths and limitations in specific interdisciplinary applications. Students also explore various areas of knowledge and ways of knowing, and reflect on their ability to construct understanding across disciplinary boundaries.