Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Teachers’ Experiences with Interdisciplinary Integration in Technological Education

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Santos, Luis
Interdisciplinary , Multidisciplinary , Teacher Collaboration , Collaboration , Technological Education , Integrated Curriculum , Integrated Assessment , Integrated Mathematics , TechnoMath , Teamwork , Subject Integration , Broad Based Technologies , Mathematics , Collaborative Challenges
Though enrollment rates into many of TE and BBT programs have seen some decline, mostly due to revised requirements for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), learners still stand to benefit from exposure and learning in both academic and TE learning streams. The TechnoMath program was a collaborative effort between the Ontario Ministry of Education and a school board in Southern Ontario to support integrated teaching and learning between TE and mathematics. In this program, TE and mathematics teachers were assigned to work collaboratively to develop and teach an integrated curriculum combining a TE subject area within Grade 10 mathematics. The purpose of this study was to examine how these teachers applied interdisciplinary teaching in their collaborative practice and how they navigated challenges throughout its implementation. A qualitative case study methodology was used to respond to the following research questions: (1) How do two teachers collaborate to deliver an integrated TE and academic mathematics program? (2) What challenges do teachers face during integrated teaching of the TechnoMath program, and how do they navigate these challenges? and (3) What perceived benefits and weaknesses do teachers identify in the TechnoMath program? These research questions were explored using teachers’ perspectives as examined through participant-observations, document analysis (i.e., curricular materials), field notes, and semi-structured interviews. This case study described an integrated teaching model in which TE and academic subjects were delivered with consideration for how teachers navigated challenges to integrated teaching and learning. Data were open-coded using NVivo software; the codes mapped onto seven themes after analysis. These themes were: (1) Teachers’ readiness; (2) Assessment; (3) Student experience and learning; (4) Subject integration; (5) Curricular content; (6) Collaborative practice: and, (7) Financial and planning challenges. Research found that collegial collaboration was present and essential in helping participants overcome challenges faced as a result of teaching an integrated program. TechnoMath also allowed teachers to deliver larger scale projects as a result of their collaboration, though student engagement was not as high as expected. Planning time, assessment strategies, and logistics surrounding procurement of project materials were the main challenges faced by teachers.
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