At Camosun, we know that the process in which two or more disciplines purposely interact – interdisciplinary education – is paramount to student success. This interactive process allows students in each discipline to learn with, learn from, and learn about each other. A multi-perspective approach to addressing complex problems leads to improved effectiveness, collaboration, and better outcomes.
What is interdisciplinary education?
Interdisciplinary education (IDE) is an emerging and evolving concept with numerous interpretations of the term. Interdisciplinary education is understanding a topic, issue, or problem from the perspective of different disciplines and integrating this knowledge and learning to gain a different or new perspective.
Interdisciplinary or interprofessional?
It is not uncommon to use Interdiscipinary and interprofessional interchangeably, but there is general agreement that the intent of interdisciplinary education is a process towards a desired outcome.
Why define interdisciplinary education?
Agreeing on widely used definition for interdisciplinary education improves the ability to understand what we mean, assists in our ability to use it consistently, and ensures we know what we want to measure; using a common definition provides language all disciplinary members can work with allowing for good communication and collaboration.
A collaborative partnership
Broadly, any partnership between a team of individuals in a participatory, collaborative and coordinated approach to shared decision-making around issues can be seen as interdisciplinary. These partnerships recognize and value the expertise and perspectives of a variety of different disciplines. It can include learning in health, social, academic, work, and community based settings, and is inclusive of all the participants in the continuum between education and practice.
At Camosun, an interdisciplinary focus is being actively developed at the course, program and college level. With collaboration and teamwork, students and faculty are bringing interdisciplinary elements into their coursework, initiatives, projects, practicum opportunities, events, and workplace practice.
Interdisciplinary education (IDE) is highlighted in a number of the Education division strategies and actions to support the college’s Strategic Plan, including:
- "Embrace and promote the importance of interdisciplinary education as a process to integrate theory, practice, and services through inclusive, respectful, collaborative and holistic approaches to education."
- "Create and activate physical and virtual learning spaces that foster inter-disciplinarity, accommodate multiple perspectives and methodologies, and focus on strengthening connections across campus, disciplines and with the community."
Common interdisciplinary educational learning outcomes include:
- Accurately describing (own) professional role, responsibilities, and scope of practice, (as well as that of others).
- Being able to identify behaviours that demonstrate respect, communication, and team building ability with other disciplines.
- Demonstrating collaboration with others to establish common person-centred goals, through shared decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
- Being able to contribute to team effectiveness by sharing information, listening attentively, respecting other opinions, demonstrating flexibility, using a common language, proving feedback to others, and responding to feedback from others.
Benefits of interdisciplinary education
Effective interdisciplinary education will:
- ensure client-centred approaches
- enhance team work, collaboration, communication, and problem solving skills
- reduce service duplication and minimize unnecessary interventions
- reduce health care costs
- enhance client and health outcomes
- improve retention and recruitment of health providers
- enhance clinical effectiveness
- provide integrated, seamless care that is perceived as effective by the client in a range of settings
Benefits for students
Through interdisciplinary education opportunities, students will:
- learn new knowledge and develop new abilities
- develop the interpersonal skills needed to work effectively with others
- gain experience working in team settings in which group members share common goals
- learn how to work with others to maximize the performance and output of the group
Key competencies of interdisciplinary education
Interdisciplinary education focuses on elements of collaboration such as respect, trust, shared decision making, and partnerships. Key competencies include:
- Role clarification: Understanding one’s own role and the roles of others
- Person - Centred Approaches: Integrating and valuing as a partner, the input, and the engagement of others involved in the process
- Team functioning: Understanding the principles of team dynamics and group processes to enable effective team collaboration
- Collaborative Leadership: Understand and apply leadership principles that support a collaborative practice model
- Communication: Communicating with others in a collaborative, responsive and responsible manner; and
- Conflict Resolution: Actively engaging self and others by positively and constructively addressing conflict.