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We reiterate our point in the design of Figure 1 , that there is strength in varied methodological and theoretical frames for understanding learning principles and classroom applications. Our intent is not to suggest that DBER and learning sciences researchers aim toward overlapping work but instead identify meaningful synergies to advance science learning and education.

There is no single way to approach science, and practices vary widely both across and within disciplines. We suggest that thoughtful consideration of what the practice of science means to us individually is an important first step to engaging in dialogue with others who may practice science differently. An appreciation for each discipline is the power and benefit of interdisciplinary work, and we encourage those interested in interdisciplinary collaboration to discuss with colleagues from different disciplines how the practice of science varies.

Although we point to differences in methods and theory that we have observed working across disciplinary lines, each collaboration is different.


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Consequently, the challenges we observed may or may not align with all interdisciplinary collaborations. Therefore, for interdisciplinary collaborations to succeed, researchers must engage in a concerted effort to understand the disciplinary practices of their collaborators without sacrificing their own perspectives. As a first step, you may wish to find someone in a discipline different from yours and discuss different practices. Another way to meet collaborators is to attend either of the conferences organized by ISLS. Other organizations with useful resources and conferences include EARLI, the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, which includes such special interest groups as higher education, quantitative and qualitative approaches to learning, instruction and learning, and teaching in culturally diverse settings.

As of the writing of this article, EARLI includes researchers from 61 different countries and meets biennially.

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The Cognitive Development Society CDS meets annually and is a group of individuals who are interested in cognitive process and cognitive development, including cognitive processes that underlie human comprehension of biology. For those who are coming from a learning sciences perspective and are interested in collaborating with a DBER researcher, the Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Researcher meets annually and lists universities with biology education research graduate programs on its website.

Although we are not suggesting that everyone become experts in all methodologies which defeats the purpose of interdisciplinary collaboration , we do suggest that those interested in interdisciplinary collaboration learn the basics of other methodologies. We hope that our brief review of methodologies in this essay may serve as a useful resource and starting point for those interested in growing and diversifying their methodological tool kits in order to bridge cross-disciplinary gaps.

This diversified methodological tool kit allows researchers to strengthen their own research—for instance, in times when phenomena remain unexplained. We expect that, through expanded, diversified methodological tool kits, collaborative teams of researchers will be better equipped to ask, and subsequently answer, different kinds of questions. We do not intend to suggest that methodology should blindly and wholly converge across disciplines. To do so would dilute the power of bringing together multiple research paradigms, perspectives, and strengths.

Identifying methodologies of interest may also help with the identification of possible collaborators who specialize in certain methods. As discussed above, there may be overlap in the methodologies within disciplines, but the lack of common language to discuss these methods may serve as a barrier.

By understanding and appreciating the language surrounding methodologies used by each discipline, researchers can be better prepared for engaging in discussions across disciplinary lines. If you are considering an interdisciplinary approach, thoughtfully consider and discuss with your colleagues what you hope to accomplish and why. Although this may not be clear at the onset of a relationship, a clear understanding of the distinction between each party and how each party will contribute to project goals are important considerations Bronstein, What is the best way to balance creating a cohort of young scientists who can function as discipline experts and are able to engage in educational research methodology?

How do we train students in both DBER and the learning sciences for successful interdisciplinary collaboration? As we have mentioned previously in this essay, the value of interdisciplinary collaborations lies in the meaningful combination of different expertise. Although we agree that it is valuable for students to be exposed to a variety of traditions and disciplines, this must be balanced with attaining disciplinary expertise. Rather than expose graduate students to as many different disciplines and methodologies as possible, we suggest that graduate programs train students to become experts in specific disciplines while concurrently promoting the development of the skills necessary to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration.

For example, previous work has indicated that individuals with experience in successful interdisciplinary work tend to have future success in similar collaborations Bronstein, Therefore, students could be required to interview with or interact with someone from a completely different discipline and then metacognitively reflect on that experience, potentially with additional NOS instruction, such as that proposed in the first strategy discussed here. This strategy allows students to experience dialogue across disciplinary lines and to reflect on different practices without sacrificing their attainment of a specific expertise.

This experience can be done alongside course work in NOS. Discussions of what it means to do science causes students to metacognitively reflect on and consider their own practices and compare those practices with their experience exploring the practices of others in different disciplines. As we have stated previously in this essay, thoughtful consideration and dialogue about different practices is an essential component of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Another possible solution is to allow students to pursue a certificate in a specialized area related to their research interests. For example, if a student is specifically interested in biology pedagogy, he or she could take specialized course work within the college of education or in his or her respective department about teaching to students of various ages or backgrounds. Maybe the student could do a field experience in a K—12 or informal setting such as a museum as part of this certificate.

Another option would be for a quantitative methods certificate, which would allow biology education graduate students to take the same advanced statistical methods courses that educational psychology graduate students take, such as item response theory or hierarchical linear modeling. Certificate programs allow students to become discipline experts in their fields of interest while gaining complementary interdisciplinary experience and experience working with others from disparate disciplines. Our goal in this essay was to provide some background for understanding the benefits and challenges related to interdisciplinary collaborations and some practical strategies for forming them.

We discussed the utility and value in synergistic approaches to understanding learning in biology Figure 1 ; as the second-generation of DBER unfolds, we are excited for the potential for advancing our collective understanding of how students learn science. Although DBER and the learning sciences have some fundamental differences in traditions of scholarship and research practices, both fields have similar goals and interests. The meaningful connection of these different perspectives leads to both the power and challenge for forming productive interdisciplinary collaborations.

It is the meaningful combination of these perspectives that leads to novel research. We also wish to note that, although interdisciplinary research has significant benefits, each field uniquely contributes to life sciences education research.

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We are not suggesting that all life sciences education research hinges on interdisciplinary approaches or that the two fields completely converge, but we hope the reader will recognize the possible benefits of interdisciplinary research and the opportunities and challenges of disciplinary distinctions. We outlined possible barriers to collaboration and also some suggested strategies for overcoming these challenges.

We suggest that anyone interested in engaging in interdisciplinary research in biology education research should not only understand and appreciate the differences between fields but should pay attention to the balance between having a distinct knowledge base and allowing for interdisciplinary discussion. This essay was framed around our experience engaging in interdisciplinary research in biology education, with support from the social sciences literature. Because each collaboration is different, it may be the case that our challenges and suggested strategies are not generalizable to all cases.

We hope that this essay, even if not perfectly applicable in all cases, will serve as a springboard for discussion as DBER moves into its second generation. Although the perspective of educators is an important part of the interdisciplinary prism, we have chosen to focus this essay around the perspectives of the discipline-based education researcher and learning scientists. We do not mean to downplay the role of this component in understanding learning principles and classroom applications, but we limit our discussion of the topic, since it outside the scope of our current aims.

We hope researchers will pick up on this component for further development in future work. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Peffer and M. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author s. It is available to the public under an Attribution—Noncommercial—Share Alike 3.

John Furlong

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Rather than pursue questions related to learning in biology from separate camps, recent calls highlight the necessity of interdisciplinary research agendas. TABLE 1. Examples of complementary life sciences education research. Open in a separate window. Berezow In science, when human behavior enters the equation, things go nonlinear. Differences in Practices Use of Theoretical Frameworks. Research Methodologies.

Design-Based Research. Psychology Lab-to-Classroom. Microgenetic Research. Engage in Effortful Discussion across Disciplinary Lines to Identify and Clarify Differences An appreciation for each discipline is the power and benefit of interdisciplinary work, and we encourage those interested in interdisciplinary collaboration to discuss with colleagues from different disciplines how the practice of science varies.

The university of the future will be interdisciplinary | Education | The Guardian

Become Familiar with Various Methodologies Although we are not suggesting that everyone become experts in all methodologies which defeats the purpose of interdisciplinary collaboration , we do suggest that those interested in interdisciplinary collaboration learn the basics of other methodologies.

Footnotes 1 Although DBER researchers are often educators within the discipline as well, for our purposes here, we are referring to K—12 educators. Design-based research: a decade of progress in education research.

Interdisciplinarity gives UiO an advantage

Educ Res. Design-based research: putting a stake in the ground. J Learn Sci. Los Angeles Times. A model for interdisciplinary collaboration. Social Work.

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Indianapolis, IN: Hackett; Common origins of diverse misconceptions: cognitive principles and the development of biology thinking. Sci Educ. The construction of causal schemes: learning mechanisms at the knowledge level. Cogn Sci. Biology Education Research 2.


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    Disciplines of Education: Their Role in the Future of Education Research

    Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Scientific teaching. Challenges for research and practice in distributed, interdisciplinary collaboration. In: Hine C, editor.