Making interdisciplinary subjects relevant to students: An interdisciplinary approach

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This paper examines issues relating to the design/redesign of the pedagogy of interdisciplinary undergraduate subjects. Examples include: (a) law subjects for students in Business Management or Building and Surveying; (b) 'English Communication for Business' for students in English; and (c) 'Information technology in Business' for students in Business. Interdisciplinary subjects often frustrate teachers because of their marginal status within the programme, low student interest and difficulty of creating a balance between the subject's double facets (e.g. the balance between the business and language facets in the above-mentioned Subject b). It has long been advocated that interdisciplinary subjects naturally invite an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach. Nevertheless, the puzzle often remains as to how to reconcile the different disciplinary facets within the subject without confusing students, each having its distinctive tradition of content organisation and teaching/assessment approaches. In the paper, the concepts of interdisciplinary and disciplinary culture and their pedagogical implications are explored, which support an interdisciplinary approach to teaching interdisciplinary subjects. Following that, literature relevant to approaches to pedagogical and curriculum design of interdisciplinary subjects is reviewed. Theories about outcome-based approaches and constructive alignment for designing curriculum and pedagogical design for undergraduate courses are then discussed and their implications for implementing the interdisciplinary approach are examined. Copyright © 2009 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-606
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Yang, M. (2009). Making interdisciplinary subjects relevant to students: An interdisciplinary approach. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(6), 597-606. doi: 10.1080/13562510903315019


  • Interdisciplinary subjects
  • Teaching and assessment design
  • Contents design
  • Interdisciplinary approach
  • Outcome-based approaches
  • Constructive alignment


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