Transdisciplinary Inquiries

In the BEP, what is meant by "Transdisciplinary Inquiries" are units of work that are designed around significant issues, tasks, questions or problems. They are inquiry-based units of work and as such, have components that allow students to direct their learning by asking questions and actively inquiring. Students have a need to understand more than one discipline to solve these significant real world questions or problems- it is not simply a theme-based approach, in other words, the connections between the disciplines are legitimate, not superficial.
Learning is more meaningful for students as it is more akin to learning in real-life. Approaches that are transdisciplinary increase students’ capacity to make connections in their learning across the curriculum and between disciplines. Transdisciplinary Learning allows students to understand that learning is not confined to artificial segmentation of knowledge called subjects. Transdisciplinary Learning Inquiries allow students to learn deeply.

Why Inquiry Learning?
Learning using the inquiry approach can have many starting points and be implemented in many ways (see Murdoch, 1992, Murdoch & Wilson, 2004). It involves students forming their own questions about a topic and having time to explore the answers. The students are both problem posers and problem solvers within inquiry learning. Inquiry Learning encourages learners to examine the complexity of the world and form concepts and generalizations instead of being told simple answers to complex problems.

Fertile Questions and Inquiry: powerpoint used by Curriculum Development Team meetings


Curriculum Development Team work
The Curriculum Development Team in 2008 developed a document outlining what Transdisciplinary Learning IS and ISN'T.
How do you manage the tension between getting students to inquire and drive their learning and meeting set outcomes (e.g. VELS)? The following two models provide overviews of ways in which units could be structured to address this tension. Both of the models allow students to actively inquire and develop questions for exploration, but ensure set outcomes are addressed.



Integrated Inquiry Learning Resources (from Nadine LeMescam's PD on Dec 8 and 9, 2008)
Nadine's recommended readings:



Nadine's powerpoint presentation



Sustainability Resources
http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/index.htm Unesco website- lots of interdisciplinary(transdisciplinary) teaching ideas for sustainability.


Inquiry-based Learning Resources
Teaching and Learning in a Community of Thinking (Yoram Harpaz) This is a model for implementing Inquiry-based learning using Fertile Questions.
Summary of the Teaching for Understanding Framework, Harvard University
Designing Lesson Plans using Backward Design, Tasmanian Department of Education
Summary of the Backward Design Model
Learning Science through Inquiry http://www.learner.org/channel/workshops/inquiry/
Inquiry-based Learning (Concept to Classroom website) http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/index.html
Interdisciplinary Learning (Concept to Classroom website) http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/interdisciplinary/implementation_sub1.html


Example units
NB. for our purposes, Interdisciplinary is close enough to Transdisciplinary

Interdisciplinary units related to Health & Environment (University of Arizona) http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/index.html
Units designed around Essential Questions (Intel Teach to the Future) http://www97.intel.com/en/ProjectDesign/UnitPlanIndex/GradeIndex/#4
Interdisciplinary Curriculum Themes around Sustainability (UNESCO) http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/TLSF/theme_c/uncofrm_c.htm