Can students connect outwards from their subject(s) of study and learn to tackle multi-layered challenges using skills and approaches found in other subject areas?
This dimension focuses on the importance of students making conceptual connections between their own subjects and other disciplines.
At appropriate points in the programme of study, they should ideally be able to step outside their home discipline(s) by, for example, studying with students and scholars from outside their main subject field.
Students should have the opportunity to explore the implications of multidisciplinary perspectives for addressing global issues and challenges.
They develop a ‘joined up’ learning narrative, making connections across apparently disparate themes; this may be assessed, for example, via a special assignment, a cumulative portfolio or a student research conference. Students engage with contrasting perspectives, including those from marginalised groups.
Not only can students encounter a range of different ways of investigating the world, they can be equipped to engage with some of the complex challenges of modern society, including its systemic inequalities.
Where to start: asking questions of your programme of study
- Is the programme of study structured so that students need to step outside their home discipline(s) and see through at least one other disciplinary lens?
- Are students required to make explicit connections between disciplinary perspectives, for example by collaborating with students of other disciplines to analyse evidence and issues?
- Through making interdisciplinary connections, are students challenged to address complex global challenges?
- Can they build understandings of and links with appropriate external communities and organisations?
- Do students have the skills to use digital tools required for communication with external communities?
- Can students use different frames of reference to critically challenge existing perspectives in the discipline?
Don’t forget: It’s important to consider all dimensions of the Connected Curriculum across all years of study – a holistic view across a programme.
Top tips for implementation
Chapter 5: Connecting across disciplines and out to the world in A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education (Dilly Fung 2017) gives an overview of implementing this dimension.
- Think about the assessment activities students do: how can they better connect with other groups?
- Speak with student representatives to explore ideas for enhancing connections that will be relevant for their learning and future careers.
- Book a bespoke ABC curriculum design workshop to design/redesign programmes and modules that helps you plan to fully incorporate the dimensions.
Examples of this dimension in action
Below are case study highlights, with more coming soon.
- How we designed the assessment for an Arts & Sciences (BASc) core module
- Helping students to license the online products of their assessed work
- Staff-student partnerships help create radical engineering curriculum
- Using scenarios to get students problem solving
- Using Moodle to bring departments and students together