Enhancing subject-specific interests through interdisciplinary teaching units



Interdisciplinary Education, Subjective task values, Interest Development, Design-based research


Due to its constructivist nature, interdisciplinary teaching appears ideal for increasing students' interests in subjects (Brassler, 2020; Kramer & Wegner, 2021). Although many argue in favor of a more comprehensive implementation of interdisciplinary teaching in schools, many practical barriers arise during the realization that need to be resolved following the design-based research approach (DBR) (Kramer & Wegner, 2022b). Especially at the upper secondary school level, implementation seems to be difficult. The question arises of how interdisciplinary instruction can be usefully implemented in the upper grades. As a first potential solution, interdisciplinary project days were developed in the subject combination of biology and physical education and evaluated with the help of an initial study. The prototypes developed increased both students’ situational interests and their perceptions of the utility value of the subjects involved (Kramer & Wegner, 2021; 2022a). However, the implementation process could be optimized, as it currently depends on reducing other school subjects. Therefore, following the iterative cycle of DBR, a new prototype was developed involving interdisciplinary units within the regular subject lessons.

The second prototype was empirically evaluated with a control-group design. In contrast to the first prototype, only descriptive trends were found, indicating that the interdisciplinary units trigger situational interest and stabilize individual interest. However, this cannot be supported statistically. Due to a high data dropout, the sample size should be increased, and the trends should be further investigated. In terms of practical feasibility, the second prototype has an advantage as it does not require any cancellation of subject lessons. However, implementing a second subject may reduce the time available for subject-specific content.