Designing educative curriculum materials in interdisciplinary teams: designer processes and contributions

Abstract

Educative curricula support teacher learning as well as the learning of students. High quality educative curricula contain features that help teachers customize learning opportunities and environments in ways that meet the needs of their learners. Designing these features requires expertise related to subject matter content, pedagogy, teacher and student learning, and instructional design. In other words, it requires interdisciplinary team work – which is notoriously challenging. To understand and support collaborative interdisciplinary design processes, a retrospective case study was conducted on interdisciplinary design team work that yielded a high quality educative curriculum for inquiry-based science learning. Design documents and transcripts of interviews with six designers (a cognitive psychologist, a practising physicist, and four science educators) were analyzed to identify their contributions during the phases of analysis, development, and evaluation to create educative features for developing pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Findings articulate specific educative features that can contribute to supporting PCK and thereby supporting instructional performance. Findings also reveal the proactive and reactive nature of designer contributions, describing different ways in which designers provide specialized inputs from a disciplinary perspective. Further, this study shows how designer contributions intermeshed, with contributions from one discipline shaping the work of colleagues, and thereby coordinating varied inputs to yield coherent educative materials. In addition, theoretical insights and recommendations for research on the nature of collaborative interdisciplinary design processes and implications for practice are given for supporting designers working in interdisciplinary teams to create educative curriculum materials for teacher (and student) learning.

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Data Availability

The dataset analyzed during this study is not publicly available due to confidentiality requirements, as established by the research organization’s Institutional Review Board.

Notes

  1. 1.

    RTOP stands for Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol, a standardized instrument to determine the degree of reform in K-20 classroom instruction in science and mathematics. It has a maximum possible score of 100. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED447205.

  2. 2.

    The study reported in this paper was part of a larger research project on science curriculum design. The Cohen’s Kappa was calculated for a set of 13 codes associated with the larger research project.

  3. 3.

    The up and down arrows in Figs. 2, 3, and 4 indicate intermeshing of designer contributions.

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Acknowledgements

This material is based upon work supported by National Science Foundation, through Grants #1252416, 1251562, and 1252373. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The authors thank Christian Schunn, Jacqueline Barber, and Natalie Pareja Roblin for their constructive feedback. The authors also thank Sara Walkup for her assistance in data analysis and the curriculum designers for participating in this study.

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Correspondence to Anushree Bopardikar.

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Bopardikar, A., Bernstein, D., Drayton, B. et al. Designing educative curriculum materials in interdisciplinary teams: designer processes and contributions. Instr Sci 49, 249–286 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11251-021-09538-5

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Keywords

  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Science curriculum
  • Educative curriculum
  • Design process
  • Interdisciplinary design