Interdisciplinary Perspectives as a Basis
for the Science IDEAS K-5 Model
A recent appraisal of how interdisciplinary research relates to meaningful
learning is overviewed in the report by the National Academy Press, How
People Learn, (Bransford et al. 2000). This report (Chapters 1-2-3) provides
a foundation for why and how science as a form of in-depth, content-area
instruction can serve as a core element in literacy development (e.g., reading
comprehension, writing) in elementary schools. In their overview, Bransford
et al. summarized consensus research investigating expert behavior and expertise
as a unifying concept for meaningful learning. Such studies have established
that, in comparison to novices, experts demonstrate a highly-developed organization
of knowledge that emphasizes an in-depth understanding of the core concepts
and concept relationships in their discipline (i.e., domain-specific knowledge)
that, in turn, they are able to access efficiently and apply with automaticity.
Although the instructional implications of such perspectives are highly
supportive of the importance of in-depth, cumulative, content-area conceptual
learning (see Schmidt et al. on the Third International Math and Science
Study findings), these implications are in direct conflict with the present
lack of emphasis on meaningful curricular content in popular approaches
to reading and language arts that presently dominate elementary schools
(e.g., Hirsch 1996, 2006; Walsh 2003) and have resulted in a de-emphasis
of science instruction (Dillon 2006; Jones et al. 1999).
In general, interdisciplinary foundations of meaningful school learning
draw from the complementary areas of cognitive science, cognitive psychology,
applied learning, instructional design/development, and educational research.
Although there is a wide variety of such work, several key research-based
perspectives provide primary tenets. The first has to do with the architecture
of knowledge-based instruction systems (Luger 2008) originally developed
to implement computer-based intelligent tutoring systems. The second (Kintsch
1994, 1998, 2004) has to do with the importance of having a well-structured
curricular environment for learning (see also Schmidt et al. 1997;1999).
The third (Bransford et al. 2000) has to do with the role of knowledge as
applied in the problem-solving behavior of experts (i.e., expertise) vs.
that of novices. And, the fourth has to do with cognitive research dealing
with the linkage of declarative knowledge to procedural knowledge and automaticity
(Anderson 1982, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1996).
The related references (above) expand these interdisciplinary foundations.