Interdisciplinary learning experiences and teaching strategies

How can we structure the interdisciplinary learning process?

'Interdisciplinary learning experiences and teaching strategies help to develop integrative understanding. This section of the planner focuses on how teachers will create a learning environment that develops interdisciplinary understanding.' - Evaluating MYP interdisciplinary unit plans

Details to remember

  • As noted regarding the necessity of including distinct disciplinary learning experiences in an IDU, distinct interdisciplinary learning experiences are also needed. In the interdisciplinary learning experiences, students are supported in consciously considering the strengths and limitations of the contributions of each participating subject/discipline as they synthesize their learning and develop the integrated summative tasks.

  • The bulk of interdisciplinary learning experiences often occur after the disciplinary learning processes. However, beginning an IDU with an interdisciplinary provocation

    can help set the stage for interdisciplinary thinking and curiosity. There also may be units in which interdisciplinary experiences are interspersed at various points during the disciplinary learning process.

  • Disciplinary and interdisciplinary learning experiences should be clearly distinguished in the description of the learning process. This planning clarity can help all teachers involved in the unit make the difference between disciplinary and interdisciplinary learning overt for students.

    • This will support students in developing their thinking related to interdisciplinary objectives A and C.

    • It can also help to maintain the interdisciplinary, rather than transdisciplinary, nature of the unit.


In this guide, a language and literature and sciences interdisciplinary unit is used to illustrate one example of what each unit plan section could look like using the provided guidance. Below are the interdisciplinary sections of that unit.

In this example unit plan, the unit begins with an introduction to the unit, with all students participating in the unit meeting together for an interdisciplinary provocation, and orientation to the statement of inquiry and summative task.

Starting an interdisciplinary unit with an introduction to these foundational elements can help students envision and engage with the purpose, process and outcome of the unit. If having students meet all together is not possible, the introductory activities could be split between the class periods of the participating courses.

The interdisciplinary learning experiences and teaching strategies described below are described in the form of a sequential flow. The school would determine which learning experiences would occur in a large group, involving all students, and which learning experiences would be planned to occur in separate class periods. If it is not possible for a school to plan large group learning experiences, planning out the interdisciplinary learning experiences that will occur in each class period may provide additional clarity.

Check the interdisciplinary learning experiences and teaching strategies through the descriptors (shown below) from the IB publication Evaluating MYP interdisciplinary unit plans.

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