The purpose of this study is to examine the nature of interdisciplinary thinking and the conditions and processes that foster it among first-year undergraduate students.
This study with 510 Australian students drawn from 2 cohorts explored an initiative to promote interdisciplinary teaching in an undergraduate ethics-based subject. The study focused on a case-study-based reflective essay intervention to compare the teaching and learning outcomes in the two student cohorts.
The results show how a case-study-based reflective essay intervention impacted on interdisciplinary learning. Introducing the case-study-based reflective essay improved interdisciplinary thinking. Findings show that integral to engaging students in interdisciplinary learning is a need for more experiential and active approaches built into education itself.
The study findings extend Spelt et al.’s (2009) model in the business education context to link student learning outcomes to the learning processes, learning environment and interdisciplinary thinking. A key limitation of this study is that the intervention is limited to only two student cohorts.
The study recommends the use of reflective practice in interdisciplinary subjects to support a variety of learning outcomes across disciplines including classroom-based and assignment-based reflective practices which influence interdisciplinary thinking and active learning.
There is limited understanding on how business schools should or could attempt to promote interdisciplinary teaching and the actual methods for doing so. This study highlights the significance of integrating reflective practice in undergraduate business education to promote students’ interdisciplinary thinking.
Declaration of conflicting interests: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
Financial support received from the Educational Strategies Development Fund at University of Wollongong and support received from COMM101 students and teaching staff to conduct this research is gratefully acknowledged.
Fernando, M., Fox, S., Bandara, R. and Hartley, D. (2020), "Lowering the walls: an integrative approach to first-year undergraduate business education", Journal of International Education in Business, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 275-295. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIEB-04-2020-0027Download as .RIS
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