What is an Integrated Curriculum?
An integrated curriculum is one that transcends the boundaries imposed by traditional subject boundaries. It is ‘understanding’ driven and involves the integration of content with skills and processes.
At QIC, we believe that students do not think naturally in terms of different subjects but tend to have a more holistic view of the world, so an integrated approach is compatible with our understanding of the ways in which students learn and develop.
An integrated approach:
- Provides students with a holistic approach to learning that helps them make connections between the varying learning areas.
- Provides students with a comprehensive curriculum that develops concepts, processes and skills.
- Gives students a greater sense of purpose in their day to day experiences at school.
- Assists students to understand and build on their experiences in order to make sense of the world.
- Encourages teachers to utilise effective teaching and learning strategies that will enhance student’s performance and learning outcomes.
- Allows students to demonstrate skills, abilities and knowledge in varied contexts.
- Values and builds on prior knowledge and out of school experiences of students.
- Allows for the achievement of many outcomes from some or all learning areas in a single unit of work.
- Makes the curriculum more manageable for teachers by bringing like ideas together and creating time for dedicated teaching in each learning area.
- Allows for the inclusion of students with a wide range of abilities, skills and knowledge within the same classroom.
The integrated curriculum aims to:
- Integrate content and skills with process and engage and interest the learner in what he/she is learning.
- Provide a context for learning content, processes and skills opportunities for interaction and co-operation with others.
- . Integrate knowledge, skills, values and actions toward a common purpose.
- Recognise and value the individual learner’s ways of knowing and learning.
- Build a partnership between the teacher and the learner and make students aware of the purpose of their learning.
- Empower students to reflect upon how they learn and acknowledge and cater for different learning styles.
- Place some control and responsibility for learning in the hands of students and involve learners in actively gathering and processing information.
- Foster dynamic and divergent approaches to teaching and encourage students to become independent, resourceful and adaptable learners.
- Cater for students with a range of different interests, abilities, skills, and motivation.
The selection of worthwhile content, taught at Queensland Independent College is essential if an integrated curriculum is to be effective. The content can be packaged in the form of particular topics around which units of work are developed. The topics selected for these units of work need to be based around key understandings and learning areas that form the Australian National Curriculum.
The development of the Australian Curriculum is guided by the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, adopted by the Ministerial Council in December 2008. The Melbourne Declaration emphasises the importance of knowledge, skills and understandings of learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities as the basis for a curriculum designed to support 21st century learning.
The Australian Curriculum sets out the core knowledge, understanding, skills and general capabilities important for all Australian students. It describes the learning entitlement of students as a foundation for their future learning, growth and active participation in the Australian community. It makes clear what all young Australians should learn as they progress through schooling. It is the foundation for high quality teaching to meet the needs of all Australian students.
The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has developed the Australian Curriculum in consultation with states and territories. Education Authorities in each state and territory have responsibility for implementation of the Australian Curriculum and for supporting schools and teachers. QIC implements the learning areas, as they become available.
The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, often called Bloom’s Taxonomy, is a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). The taxonomy was proposed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist at the University of Chicago. To add support to Bloom’s theories, Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom, revisited the cognitive domain in the taxonomy associated with learning, during the mid-nineties and made some important changes. The two most prominent changes that impacted on the practical understandings were 1) changing the names in the six categories from noun to verb forms, to indicate that the learning areas could be ‘done’ and 2) slightly rearranging them to place impact.
Bloom’s Taxonomy divides educational objectives into three “domains:” Affective, Psychomotor, and Cognitive. Like other taxonomies, Bloom’s is hierarchical; meaning that learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels (Orlich, et al. 2004). This scaffolding of information encourages educators to motivate their students to engage in learning and focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education.
Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel another living thing’s pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings.
There are five levels in the affective domain moving through the lowest thinking order processes to the highest thinking order:
The lowest level; the student passively pays attention. Without this level no learning can occur.
The student actively participates in the learning process, not only attends to a stimulus; the student also reacts in some way.
The student attaches a value to an object, phenomenon, or piece of information.
The student can put together different values, information, and ideas and accommodate them within his/her own schema; comparing, relating and elaborating on what has been learned.
The student holds a particular value or belief that now exerts influence on his/her behaviour so that it becomes a characteristic.
Skills in the psychomotor domain describe the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer. Psychomotor objectives usually focus on change and/or development in behavior and/or skills.
Bloom and his colleagues never created subcategories for skills in the psychomotor domain, but since then other educators have created their own psychomotor taxonomies.
Categories in the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001)
Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and “thinking through” a particular topic. Traditional education tends to emphasize the skills in this domain, particularly the lower-order objectives. The end result is considered more important that the process or journey of learning.
There are six levels in the taxonomy, moving through the lowest thinking order processes to the highest thinking order:
Exhibit memory of previously-learned materials by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers
• Knowledge of specifics – terminology, specific facts
• Knowledge of ways and means of dealing with specifics – conventions, trends and sequences, classifications and categories, criteria, methodology
• Knowledge of the universals and abstractions in a field – principles and generalizations, theories and structures
Questions like: What is…?
Demonstrative understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating main ideas
Questions like: How would you compare and contrast…?
Using new knowledge. Solve problems to new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way
Questions like: Can you organise _______ to show…?
Examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes. Make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations
• Analysis of elements
• Analysis of relationships
• Analysis of organisational principles
Questions like: How would you classify…?
Compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions
• Production of a unique communication
• Production of a plan, or proposed set of operations
• Derivation of a set of abstract relations
Questions like: Can you predict an outcome?
Present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria
• Judgments in terms of internal evidence
• Judgments in terms of external criteria
Questions like: Do you agree with…..?
Some critiques of Bloom’s Taxonomy’s cognitive domain admit the existence of these six categories, but question the existence of a sequential, hierarchical link. Also the revised edition of Bloom’s taxonomy has moved Synthesis in higher order than Evaluation. Some consider the three lowest levels as hierarchically ordered, but the three higher levels as parallel. Others say that it is sometimes better to move to Application before introducing concepts. This thinking would seem to relate to the method of problem-based learning and the Inquiry based Curriculum.
- Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals; pp. 201-207; B. S. Bloom (Ed.) Susan Fauer Company, Inc. 1956.
- A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing — A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives; Lorin W. Anderson, David R. Krathwohl, Peter W. Airasian, Kathleen A. Cruikshank, Richard E. Mayer, Paul R. Pintrich, James Raths and Merlin C. Wittrock (Eds.) Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. 2001
- Learning Domains or Bloom’s Taxonomy – Donald R. Clark
- Paul, R. (1993). Critical thinking: What every person needs to survive in a rapidly changing world (3rd ed.). Rohnert Park, California: Sonoma State University Press.