Embedding Interdisciplinary into the first-year Undergraduate Curriculum: Drivers and Barriers in a Cross-Institutional Enhancement Project
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Engaging with interdisciplinary learning during higher education (HE) study can provide students with skills and modes of thinking informed by multiple worldviews. Opportunities for interdisciplinary learning in the English HE system are limited; associated primarily with postgraduate study or later undergraduate stages. This paper reports on an enhancement project that sought to engage first-year students with interdisciplinary learning. Drawing on data gathered from staff interviews, student focus groups and module enrolments, we examine drivers and barriers impacting on the planned curriculum transformation. Whilst drivers emerged from many directions (e.g. professional bodies, staff advocates), these were overwhelmed by the barriers–both administrative and ideological. Student responses were mixed. Some would have liked a wider choice of truly interdisciplinary modules, but it was clear many students did not understand the rationale for the modules and felt that they needed more support to participate.
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