Challenges of Interdisciplinary University Programs of Studies: The Case of English in Public Communication

Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


The aim of this study is to track students’ self-assessed successes and failures after taking courses in English in Public Communication (EPC) at the University of Opole. This interdisciplinary BA program combines philological, sociological and public communication courses. Using the data from 204 surveys, the study compares the calculated mean scores for the achievement of “new knowledge,” “new skills” and “new social competences” within two groups of subjects: core curriculum courses and practical English courses as declared by the first- and second-year students of EPC. Results show that there are clearer self-recognized knowledge gains, but consistently lower degrees of confidence when it comes to new skills or new social competences. In addition, students have higher sense of success with respect to their English proficiency, while they do not seem to profit too much from some of the core curriculum subjects. The findings of the study are discussed in the context of the current constructivist and critical paradigms in tertiary education in Poland and indicate that, to face the challenges inherent in interdisciplinary programs, the dominant metaphor of “learning as acquisition” must give way to competence-based instruction that follows from the model of “learning as participation in a community of practice” or “learning as knowledge-building.”


Interdisciplinary study programs Self-assessment Social competences Metaphors for learning 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OpoleOpolePoland

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