Interdisciplinary learning

In the Middle Years Programme (MYP), interdisciplinary learning supports students to understand bodies of knowledge from two or more disciplines or subject groups, in order to integrate them and create new understanding.

Students demonstrate interdisciplinary understanding when they bring together concepts, methods, or forms of communication from two or more disciplines or established areas of expertise so that they can explain a phenomenon, solve a problem, create a product, or raise a new question in ways that would have been unlikely through a single discipline.

Significance of interdisciplinary learning

Younger learners often make connections naturally between different areas of knowledge, in order to understand the world around them. In some cases, this is because they have not yet been socialized into the disciplinary perspectives that organize the academic world.

Even though secondary education usefully organizes learning into disciplinary compartments as a response to increasing specialization, our ever-changing world also demands education that empowers people to integrate disciplines in novel and creative ways.

As knowledge and information multiply, critical thinkers must successfully integrate disciplinary perspectives to understand complex issues and ideas.

Structuring interdisciplinary teaching

In each year of the programme, MYP schools are responsible for engaging students in at least one collaboratively planned interdisciplinary unit that involves at least two subject groups.

In MYP schools, collaborative planning is vital. Time for collaborative planning must be managed systematically and effectively, and it must involve all teachers. Meeting time is especially important for developing horizontal and vertical articulation of the curriculum. 

Fostering interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the MYP, developed in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University’s Project Zero (available on the IB’s online curriculum centre (OCC), )provides examples of effective interdisciplinary study in the MYP.

Learn more about interdisciplinary learning in an MYP workshop for teachers