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The results of an investigative process are reported that centre on the impact that modular curricular organization and its interdisciplinary activity are having on the teaching culture in the Degree in Social Education at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). This understanding of the curriculum is a seminal change for teaching staff and affects their professional identity by encouraging co-responsibility throughout the process. Communicative methodology is employed, which assists in the integration of the people in the investigation, so that they form part of the process of study under equal terms. The production of data was done through in-depth interviews, discussion groups, and documental analysis. The Interdisciplinary Activity Module (IAM) was developed in small groups, of 12-15 individuals, through active methodologies, and the university teachers needed to incorporate it into their discourse and relations with other colleagues and with their students. The results show that an integrated curriculum provides a worthwhile training opportunity to achieve learning of greater significance and depth, and that it happens through changes in their ways of relating and acting as teachers.
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© NAER Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research 2017 | http://naerjournal.ua.es
ORIGINAL
JOURNAL OF NEW APPROACHES IN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH
Vol. 6. No. 2. July 2017. pp. 127–134 ISSN: 2254-7339 DOI: 10.7821/naer.2017.7.235
*To whom correspondence should be addressed:
Escuela de Magisterio de Bilbao (UPV/EHU)
Leioa. 48940
Bizkaia (Spain)
The integrated curriculum, university teacher identity and
teaching culture: the effects of an interdisciplinary activity
Israel Alonso Sáez1* , Naiara Berasategi Sancho2
1Escuela Universitaria de Magisterio de Bilbao, Universidad del País Vasco, España {Israel.alonso@ehu.eus}
2Escuela Universitaria de Magisterio de Bilbao, Universidad del País Vasco, España
{naiara.berasategi@ehu.eus}
Received on 10 February 2017; revised on 29 March 2017; accepted on 14 April 2017; published on 15 July 2017
DOI: 10.7821/naer.2017.7.235
ABSTRACT
The results of an investigative process are reported that centre on
the impact that modular curricular organization and its interdisci-
plinary activity are having on the teaching culture in the Degree in
Social Education at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/
EHU). This understanding of the curriculum is a seminal change
for teaching staff and affects their professional identity by encour-
aging co-responsibility throughout the process. Communicative
methodology is employed, which assists in the integration of the
people in the investigation, so that they form part of the process of
study under equal terms. The production of data was done through
in-depth interviews, discussion groups, and documental analysis.
The Interdisciplinary Activity Module (IAM) was developed in small
groups, of 12-15 individuals, through active methodologies, and the
university teachers needed to incorporate it into their discourse and
relations with other colleagues and with their students. The results
show that an integrated curriculum provides a worthwhile training
opportunity to achieve learning of greater signicance and depth,
and that it happens through changes in their ways of relating and
acting as teachers.
KEYWORDS: HIGHER EDUCATION, INTERDISCIPLINARY,
TEACHING IDENTITY, TEACHING CULTURE
1 INTRODUCTION
The design and implementation of the interdisciplinary curriculum
in the Degree in Social Education of the UPV/EHU [University
of the Basque Country] is an attempt to adapt to the requirements
of the European Area for Higher Education (EHEA), as well as
being the result of reection on the need to move towards an inte-
grated curriculum (Elejalde & Pereira, 2014). It takes the form of
a modular design that is constructed with the following keys: a) to
manage to generate greater integration of knowledge, progressing
towards an integrated curriculum (Knight, Lattuca, & Kimball,
2013; Pozuelos, Rodriguez, & Travé, 2012; Toassi & Lewgoy,
2016), given that knowledge in the real world is holistic, and an
integrated approach ensures a higher level of involvement and
motivation among students following scientic courses (Arandia
& Fernández, 2012; Knight et al., 2013); and, b) the develop-
ment of collaborative work between teaching teams (Arandia &
Fernández, 2012; Goméz, Escofet, & Freixa, 2014). The proposal
related to the Degree in Social Education arises in this context
and draws from experiences with excellent results in Higher
Education (HE) at an international level, based on an integrat-
ed curriculum and on the development of competences related to
both professional practice and working life (Branda, 2008; Col-
lard, Brédart, & Bourguignon, 2016; Knight et al., 2013; Mullan,
Weston, Rich, & McLennan, 2014; Savin-Baden, 2007; Tierz &
Biedermann, 2015).
Both in the process of the EHEA (Rodicio, 2010) and in the in-
ternational literature (Biggs, 2006), changes are also proclaimed
in in the role of the teacher and in the methodology to be applied
to the current university setting. An emphasis in various studies
has been placed on a necessary transformation of teacher identity
in the society of knowledge; this is the shift from the role and the
identity of the expert to another one of animator and facilitator
of student learning. The role of the teacher changes completely;
from one of a communicator of knowledge to the students, to a
mediator in the construction of their own self-knowledge (Bozu &
Canto, 2009; Huber, 2008; Peters, 2008). From a model of teach-
ing characterized by uni-directional and expositive approaches in
which the leading player is the teacher, to one of educational ex-
change, of a multidirectional nature, in which student and teacher
converse and act as narrators of the progress that takes place in
educational scenarios (Alonso & Arandia, 2014).
Table 1. Transformations in the identity of the teacher and teaching
culture in the knowledge society
Transformations in the identity of the professional university
teacher
From the teacher to the expert To animator and facilitator of
learning
From teacher as a communicator
of knowledge
To mediator in the construction
of knowledge among students
From specialist in one subject To contributor to scientic
knowledge possessing teaching
skills that stimulate student
learning
From being the centre or focus
of attention
To playing a decisive role, trans-
ferring the focus to students and
their learning process
Alonso, I.; Berasategi, N. / Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research 6(2) 2017. 127-134
128
Transformations in teaching methodology
From an unidirectional and
expositive model of teaching
To an educational exchange of a
multidirectional nature based on
dialogue
From a theory-based methodo-
logy
To the development of com-
petences related to signicant
situations
From a methodology in which
the central role was based on
lecturing
To a methodology in which
different strategies are based on
lecturing, practices and projects
From a methodology in which
the contents formed the centre
To the development of attitudes,
procedures and growth. Together
with the contents, signicant
emotions and actions also appear
Transformations in teaching culture
From a culture of individualism To a culture based on coordina-
tion and shared responsibility
From a division between
teaching in the classroom and
institutional management
To a culture of participation
with the teacher as an active
agent in processes of change and
innovation
Source: Alonso (2015)
In the above table, it may be appreciated that this change that
the EHAE proposes, not only has an impact on the life of each
teacher and subject, but also on the transition towards a more col-
laborative teaching culture. Reection and the implementation of
the EHEA on each degree course is encouraged to come from joint
reection among all the teachers and not in an individual way in
each of the subjects (Perez-Cabani, Juando, & Palma, 2014; Rué
& Lodeiro, 2010; Terrón, Blanco, Berenguer, & Learreta, 2007).
In short, so that collaboration and team work with other teach-
ers play a central role (Gómez, Escofet, & Freixa, 2014; Heinric,
2015; Kennelly & McCormack, 2015). To do so, the organization
of transversal teams for innovation is necessary, within depart-
ments and different subject modules on the Degree course. There
have been several such initiatives, and the literature on them is
not lacking, demonstrating the benets and potentialities of this
new way of working (Mauri, Clara, Ginesta & Colomina, 2013;
Pérez-Cabani, Juando, & Palma, 2014; Rué & Lodeiro, 2010;
Velasco, Rodriguez, & Terrón, 2012;), as well as the difculties
and the necessity of advancing along this road to cultural change
(Martínez et al., 2010; Rué & Lodeiro, 2010).
All of the above amounts to a change in academic identity, in
a complex process in which different factors interact such as rep-
resentations, knowledge, values and interaction (Alonso, Lobato,
& Arandia, 2015). A change in the identity of the teacher is at
the heart of educational innovation; as Monereo and Pozo (2011)
have proposed, if teachers will not change, it will be difcult for
these innovations to meet with success. This identity is in turn
transformed in a teaching context and culture that inuences and
is inuenced by it. The new culture that is generated (Sutherland,
& Taylor, 2011) is also vital in any educational innovation, re-
sponding to a series of decisions on the part of the members that
constitute it (Pearson, 2010). In these decisions, not only are the
circumstances and the rules of external change important (Pear-
son, 1993) as in this case of the EHEA, but the interpretations
of them and the decisions that are taken in the groups that are
involved, which makes this process so unique (Witte, Van der
Wende, & Huisman, 2008). In the case under study, the set of
teachers participating in a Degree course design and form part of a
sea-change in the curriculum that calls into question their identity
as teachers and the teaching culture in which they have socialized.
To do so, as may be appreciated in the case study, the benets
but also the difculties of collaborating with the other teachers
who constitute the team that plans, carries out and evaluates the
IAM is also important (Heinrich, 2015).
The development of this framework was set in motion in
the academic year 2010/11. Its novelties consist of its modular
structure, an Interdisciplinary Activity Module (IAM), the Degree
teaching team, formed of the degree course coordinator and the
coordinators of each module (Alonso, Arandia, & Beloki, 2017),
and the Academic Awards Committee (Aranida, Alonso, & Cabo,
2016). All these aspects reect the fabric of curricular innovation
that will be implemented and the identity and cultural changes
that are encouraged. In this work, we will centre on two of them
that are described below:
Modular structure. Teachers participate in the development,
planning and evaluation of the modules, taking responsibility for
interdisciplinarity in the development of competences and achiev-
ing them in relation to the modules. These modules organize
knowledge around problematic core themes that function as a sin-
gle object of knowledge throughout the whole learning-teaching
process that takes place in each one of them (Rekalde, Martinez,
& Marko, 2012). Each core theme, in turn, responds to a ques-
tion: where, who, why, and for what, what does it do, meaning,
how, action-reection. Each question introduces the profession to
us, its modes of operation and brings us closer to the analysis of
socio-educational problems and the comprehension of education-
al situations that one might nd in professional life. The subject
matter found in each module is organized in accordance with its
relevance to the knowledge of each one of the questions or central
core problems (Arandia, Cruz, Alonso, & Fernández, 2014; Aran-
dia & Fernández, 2012).
(1) The Interdisciplinary Activity Module (IAM). In each
module there is an IAM found in all the subjects, which
represents 15% of their teaching load. The teaching staff
manages each module in an inter-disciplinary way. The
objective of the IAM is to prompt the completion of a
particular piece of work through student collaboration,
reection and inquiry. To do so, students are set a task
relating to a professional global situation that leads them
to propose questions, to search for information through
documentary and personal sources, data analysis and so
on, so that they may construct educational reasoning. This
task concludes with the written preparation and oral pu-
blic presentation of a report, prepared in collaboration as
part of a team. The training modality in which this integral
task is developed in each module is the seminar that is
formed of around twelve students and a teacher, acting as
a facilitator of the learning process, supporting students
by expounding questions, contrasting what is known and
driving profound learning. IAM is approached by emplo-
ying what are referred to as “active” methodologies that
direct the learning by students of these self-directive keys;
among others, use is made of Project-based Learning,
Cooperative Learning, Problem-based Learning, proces-
ses of reection-action along the lines of Research-Action
and Learning-Service (Arandia et al., 2014).
(2) With this background framework, the objective of this
research is to determine the impact that the modular orga-
nization of the curriculum and its interdisciplinary activity
The integrated curriculum, university teacher identity and teaching culture: the effects of an interdisciplinary activity
129
is having on the identities and on the teaching culture of
the Degree in Social Education (UPV/EHU).
With this background framework, the objective of this re-
search is to determine the impact that the modular organization
of the curriculum and its interdisciplinary activity is having on
the identities and on the teaching culture of the Degree in Social
Education (UPV/EHU).
Figure 1. Structure of the module. Source: Primary Education Teacher
Training School, Bilbao (2015)
2 METHODOLOGY
The methodology of this work, from a qualitative perspective
(Denzin, 2012; Tracy, 2011), is communicative, which means
that the people in the investigation participate in the process
under equal terms (Casamitjana, Puigvert, Soler, & Tortajada,
2000). The incorporation of these voices, in this case the voices
of teachers, contributes to the dependence of the meanings that
are construed on the interactions that occur in a context of dia-
logue upon equal terms, based on reection, self-reection, and
intersubjectivity (Gómez, Puigvert, & Flecha, 2011). The meth-
odology assumes these premises and depends on communicative
organization throughout the whole process, during which an as-
sessment committee, formed of the teachers of the degree, was set
up. This case study was carried out in different phases between
January 2013 and July 2015.
2.1 Sample and participants
The sample for this study was composed of teachers and students
in the case study and by its animators-promoters. In total, the sam-
ple consisted of 44 people, segmentation of which was based on
the following criteria:
(1) 3 Managers/Coordinators in the organization: Director of
the centre, Head of studies and Coordinator of the degree
course. These people participated in in-depth interviews.
(2) 28 Teachers. All the teachers in the study (approximately
40) were contacted, of whom ten participated in the in-
depth interviews, nine in the communicative groups, ve
in the assessment council and nine in the observation of
participants.
(3) 10 students from the third course of the Degree in Social
Education. The students who had formed part of the dis-
cussion group were contacted. An explanation was given
to the delegates, to the student representative on the De-
gree Committee and more widely in the classroom to all
students.
2.2 Techniques for producing the data
The data production techniques in use were:
Documental analysis. The study of documentation relating to
the design and implementation of the IAM (acts and documents
of the design process, records of module evaluations and so on)
In-depth interview. 10 semi-structured in-depth interviews
were completed. Each interview followed a process of preparation
(choice of interviewees, contacts and preparation of an interview
script), interview transcription and its verication by interview-
ees. The duration of the interview was 90 minutes.
Communicative observation. Throughout the research, commu-
nicative observation techniques were employed (Flecha, Vargas, &
Dávila, 2012) participating in two meetings as an external observer:
A) A two-day meeting of the module coordinators and two external
people; B) Evaluation meeting of one complete day of analysis, in
which coordinators, management posts, teachers and students all
participated. Notes were taken at both meetings that were subse-
quently checked with participants in those working contexts.
Communicative group discussion. Two communicative group
discussions were organized: with ten students from the case study
and with a further 10 male and female students.
Finally, the communicative organization of the investigation
was guaranteed through the creation of an assessment coun-
cil (Flecha et al., 2012) composed of ve teachers involved in
the case study, This council met at two points in time (half way
through and at the end of the process) to discuss the analysis and
the results and to be able to integrate it into the denitive research
report.
A characterization of the teachers who participated in the dif-
ferent data-collection techniques is shown in the following tables.
In the rst round of interviews, 10 teachers were invited in ac-
cordance with the following criteria: a) they were active in the
different Departments in which teaching on the Degree course
was imparted; b) they were teaching on the different (four-month)
modules; and, c) they presented different career paths and lev-
els of involvement in the design of the Degree (with a minimum
of three years of teaching experience). The characteristics of this
group of teachers are shown in Table 2.
The subject-module coordinators and the staff took part in the
two sessions that one of the authors attended as a participating
observer. The characteristics of the teachers who participated in
these two meetings are shown in Table 3.
In the second phase, an invitation was shared with the other
teachers who had been working for over two years on the Degree
course and had not participated in the aforementioned techniques,
a total of 19 teachers, of whom 9 participated in the Communica-
tive Discussion Group. Their characteristics are shown in Table 4.
The participation of 11 students of both sexes was divided into
a communicative group with six in one group and another six in
the participant observation sessions. A rst group were studying in
the third year of their degree course and the other eight were from
various years following subjects in Castilian Spanish and Euskera.
Finally, ve teachers participated in the evaluation committee.
Three women and one man from different departments, with dif-
fering positions and experience on the Degree in Social Education
of Bilbao and one teacher on the Degree of Social Education of San
Sebastian at the Faculty of Philosophy and Educational Sciences.
Alonso, I.; Berasategi, N. / Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research 6(2) 2017. 127-134
130
Teacher Sex Contract Phd/ Department Experience
1Woman Permanent Yes MIDE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
2Woman Permanent Yes MIDE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
3Woman Permanent No DOE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
4 Man Permanent Yes Theory & History Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
5Woman Permanent No Sociology Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
6Woman Temporary Ye s Educational Psychology Less than 5 years as a teacher.
7Woman Permanent Yes Dept. of Education Over 15 years in teacher teaching.
8Woman Permanent Yes Theory of History Over 15 years in teacher training.
9Woman Permanent No Educational Sciences
Didactics
Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
10 Woman Permanent Yes Language Teaching Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
Source: Authors.
Table 2. Characteristics of the participants in the in-depth interview
Teacher Sex Contract Phd Department Experience
1 Woman Permanent Yes MIDE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
2 Woman Permanent Yes MIDE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
11 Woman Permanent Yes DOE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
12 Man Permanent Yes Social Psychology Over 5 years as a teacher, qualied with Diploma.
13 Woman Permanent Yes Sociology Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
14 Woman Permanent Yes DOE Over 15 years in teacher training.
15 Woman Permanent Yes Theory of History Over 15 years in teacher training.
16 Man Permanent Yes Theory of History Over 15 years in teacher training.
17 Woman Permanent Yes DOE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
Source: Authors.
Table 3. Characteristics of participants in communicative observation
Table 4. Characteristics of participants in the communicative discussion group
Teacher Sex Contract Phd Department Experience
18 Mujer Woman Yes Educational Psychology Over 5 years as a teacher, qualied with Diploma.
19 Mujer Woman No Educational Psychology Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
20 Mujer Woman No Theory of History Over 5 years as a teacher.
21 Mujer Woman Yes MIDE Over 5 years as a teacher, qualied with Diploma.
22 Hombre Man No MIDE Over 15 years since Teaching Dip.
23 Mujer Woman No DOE Over 5 years as a teacher, qualied with Diploma.
24 Mujer Woman Yes DOE Over 5 years as a teacher, qualied with Diploma.
25 Hombre Man Yes Educational Psychology Over 15 years in teacher training.
26 Mujer Woman No DOE Less than 5 years as a teacher.
Source: Authors.
The integrated curriculum, university teacher identity and teaching culture: the effects of an interdisciplinary activity
131
As previously mentioned, 31 different teachers (two of whom
participated in two techniques), almost three quarters of all
teachers on the Degree course, were involved in some of the da-
ta-collection techniques.
2.3 Data analysis
All the data was transcribed, registered and coded using the NVi-
vo 10 qualitative analysis programme. Throughout the process,
new data resources were included such as eld notes, memoran-
dums, among others. On the basis of the earlier steps, an analysis
was conducted with the NVIVO programme,, focusing attention
on those themes that were emerging in a natural way. This rst
coding state permitted a preliminary inductive categorization to
move on to reorganization of the data, in a second stage, yielding
the denitive categorical system and, nally, regrouping all the
related data.
3 RESULTS
One of the core functions of the teaching teams on each module
is the design, the implementation and the evaluation of the IAM.
This new way of understanding the curriculum, incorporating in-
terdisciplinarity, is a sea-change for teachers and it affects their
professional identity by making them co-responsible throughout
the process. As has been seen, the IAM is developed in small
groups, of around 12-15 individuals, through active methodolo-
gies, and academic professionals have to incorporate it into their
way of understanding and relating to the other colleagues and
with the students.
3.1 Positive and transformational aspects of the
interdisciplinary activity module in both teacher
identity and teaching culture
The following aspects may be highlighted in the evaluation un-
dertaken by students and teaching staff of the impact that the IAM
is having on the student-learning process and on the new role of
teachers: a) It is allowing the integration of different modules;
b) As the prole of their competences develop, students see the
processes in a clearer manner; c) Tutoring processes are closer
and generate dynamics that are impossible to achieve with larger
groups. Student satisfaction is high and the consideration given
by many teachers to what they teach makes it possible for learning
to occur in a more meaningful and independent manner; and, d)
change and progress in the training of students.
In the following testimony, it may be appreciated how working
with a task such as the IAM inuences the student training
process:
It is rewarding. For example, I’m on the Social Ed-
ucation Degree, I give classes in the rst and in the
third year, in module 1 and in module 6; this is the rst
year that I have worked on module 6. Well, to see the
change in students has been thrilling. For example, in
the work on IAM, the degree of independence that they
have gained, when doing the IAM, from module 6 in
relation to the rst [module] where you almost have to
get hold of them and lift up their arm… “come on, give
me the rst draft, come on…” You sit down with them,
you almost write it,… “Try to see how you do it…” A
complete change. (FC1ED10)
Likewise, it was observed that it was not easy to move from the
theory on modular and interdisciplinary themes to its application
in teaching practice. One teacher pointed out that:
...the theme of the IAM, the idea seems very good
to me, but the difcult thing is to put it into practice
and to see when they nally achieve the objective and
the competences, but (…) even then, each subject goes
where it will, it’s a bit compartmentalized, and never-
theless it can give an idea of greater globality to propose
the module in relation with… and this does seem to
me… to adapt the subject to the IAM and to give it an-
other perspective, and then if you manage to do that, I
still haven’t done it (…) (FC1ED6).
As happens in all deep educational innovation, difculties and
dangers arise that have to be solved step by step. The most per-
sistent are precisely those linked to the change in teacher identity,
with regard to the role, the evaluation, the knowledge, the neces-
sary know-how, and teamwork.
3.2 Difculties, dangers and challenges of the
Interdisciplinary Activity Module
The two difculties of greatest importance were:
(1) The lack of education and competences for tutoring in
these processes. New needs emerged in the tutoring pro-
cess: reading the dynamics of the group, resolution of
conicts, driving autonomous learning… Regarding these
needs, tutors are not always in possession of the tools to
confront them, or, are not sufciently perceptive to have
them available and/or to master them. This leads to a
degree of collapse of the certainties with regard to their
identity as teachers. We should keep in mind that teachers
have to cross a security zone, to arrive at another in which
they have to integrate new forms of understanding and of
practicing teaching. Managing to do so requires prepara-
tion, dialogue and reection in teaching teams.
(2) The way of setting out the evaluation with these new
methodological proposals (Paricio, 2010). In the words of
one teacher:
We don’t know about evaluation, evaluating team-
work, and I think that I can say so, because it’s a point
that comes up continuously in the teaching teams that
I’ve been in. We don’t discriminate… Take care about
the degree of involvement of somebody, don’t let
them get away, don’t put up with parasites within the
groups… that sort of thing (FC1ED10).
Accepting and facing up to this challenge of new forms of eval-
uation has led to setting up strategies that go deeper into a teacher
identity that is marked by collaboration and greater interaction
and closeness with students. A strategic solution found in different
teaching teams is pair correction. But it is still insufcient.
The topic of correcting one another cropped up, I
don’t think that’s enough, because what I want to know
is whether we’re doing the tutoring well, how to achieve
IAM or the strategies to work the IAM, how we are do-
ing jointly, and if they suggest this feed-back… but we
are not at those levels, of course that’s the task, it takes
time, but it’s necessary …(FC1ED2).
Alonso, I.; Berasategi, N. / Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research 6(2) 2017. 127-134
132
Some teachers go further and point to the need for greater co-
ordination and coherence in the job, both in the denition of the
evaluation criteria and in the orientation given in the processes of
tutoring to undertake the evaluation fairly and equitably.
On this path, the danger of bureaucratization and routinization
of the work by the students is agged up. When that happens, the
most creative and open learning that the IAM aspires to promote
is at risk. The tutor has to be attentive and to carry out conscien-
tious follow up, so as not to engender automatization in learning.
The following teacher describes it in the following terms,
I also have to say that I see that they have made it a
little bureaucratic… That part left me, that’s to say…
like in the rst IAM, they get scared off, and so do we,
the teachers in rst place, as you look after it, you really
get on top of it, you do many more tutoring sessions
than are expected, because-… because otherwise you
lose the students… So far so good, this year the IAM
has been much more comfortable… but, because they
know it all, (…) (FC1ED10).
Although subsequently, this same teacher expressed how all of
this depends a lot on the diversity of the work groups that were
formed and on the time when they meet.
They shrug off their independence, they say “Look,
tell me clearly what it is that you are going to mark
and what you are going to take into account; we’ll get
down to it and do it”… But well, then there are always
exceptions. I had a group this year, in the IAM, that
in addition I think was a group that had very shaky
self-esteem, (…) a difcult group… and well, at the be-
ginning they had an attitude in the IAM, “Well, you tell
us, how do we do…” And I say… and they had done a
good SWOT analysis, the analysis of weaknesses and
strengths of the educational association that works with
older people, which was very well done. I tell them,
“Well, take the bull by the horns, if you think that the
problem of this association is that it isn’t there, that it
has no spatial or geographic location in a city, and it’s
not focusing on a particular reality, and therefore… It’s
integrated in institutions, but it is not working on the
group, well say as much to that association”… and well,
they rose to the challenge (FC1ED10).
Given the consideration of IAM as a learning situation of great
formative potential, some speak of certain challenges and propos-
als to be able to face up to the difculties and dangers that have
been mentioned. These are:
Joint reection and organization. It is a question of facilitat-
ing spaces for dialogue, contrast, learning and improvement for
teachers, where each teacher expresses how to approach tutoring,
sets out reections on the potential aspects and the limits; and
establishes patterns among them all for improvement.
Linking each subject to the IAM process. These linkages once
again require reinforcement through teamwork that, in turn,
supports the change in identity and the cultural changes that are
forming.
Institutional support for these new forms of teaching requested
by teachers and students. This support is the global indicator that
all processes of cultural change and change of identity require
structural and administrative transformations that channel them
and lend them support. Their absence can lead to a clear invo-
lution of the process, risking everything that has been gained up
until that time; caring for it is therefore necessary.
Finally, it is important to observe that all the actions pointed
out in the teaching modes, in the use of different methodologies
that require high levels of inquiry and reexion, implies greater
openness to dialogue with students and also an impact on their
learning. From the different evaluations of the IAM that have
been carried out, we may highlight some aspects that will be re-
peated, which are: a) greater motivation than with other teaching
methods; b) a positive evaluation of learning that is based on real
professional situations with which the student has to work inde-
pendently; and, c) high development of competences connected
to team work and inter-personal relations. The testimony of some
interviewees, spoke of how students feel when learning and how
they see their analysis of educational reality are as follows:
I have had the opportunity of meeting with educators
who nished 3 years ago and they left me amazed at the
very different learning processes that we have and I told
them about projects and you realize what a gift the de-
gree was and the process in which we are participating
and people have not had spaces like the ones that we are
having (…) I’ll stay with the foundations that we have
(…) and how many teachers have transmitted that re-
sponsibility of wishing to give and the effects that it can
have on others and to check with our companions and
how we can do it with our innermost self (…)”.
We have to highlight the capability of the group to
act with values, with respect, apart from the teaching
that we have. Somebody in the class said to me that one
day we arrive looking through a very small hole that has
been widening and we increasingly see the reality and
we are growing, working and something has come out
shining and above the respect, the empathy, the aware-
ness and we have all benetted from the difculties”.
4 DISCUSSION
It is important to advance towards a teacher identity and a teach-
ing culture that assumes interdisciplinarity in the university
curriculum (Monereo & Pozo, 2003), so that this is not simply a
puzzle of content and knowledge, the global reach of which no-
body or almost nobody knows. The IAM developed in the Degree
in Social Education is a worthwhile step in that direction, given
that it confronts students with professional situations in the face
of which they have to develop critical judgement, take decisions
that are reasoned and upheld in educational terms and they even,
in some cases, have to draft a proposed course of action that calls
for the activation of different knowledge learnt in the educational
process (Arandia et al., 2014). In this way, the contributions of
students and teachers with regard to the process through which
they have lived highlight that an integrated curriculum provides
an opportunity to achieve more meaningful and deeper learning
levels. Studies developed in other academic contexts also conrm
that the spaces and models for the treatment of learning help in an
integral way to make sense of learning and to motivate students
more (Savin-Baden, 2007; Tierz & Biedermann, 2015). Likewise,
the educational and interdisciplinary approaches stimulate inno-
vation with greater efcacy than educational programmes based
on a discipline (Knight et al., 2013). Moreover, those who would
defend this type of programme show that an educational proposal
of an interdisciplinary nature for a Degree prepares students better
for the job market and the participation of citizens, facilitating
the development of their capability for the solution of problems
The integrated curriculum, university teacher identity and teaching culture: the effects of an interdisciplinary activity
133
and capabilities of critical thought (Knight et al., 2013; Newell &
Reilly, 1999).
This approach requires teachers to move from a role and an
identity of expert to another of guide and facilitator of student
learning (Biggs & Tang, 2008; Bozu & Canto, 2009). As may be
gleaned from this investigation, it is no easy task. It takes time,
training and learning spaces to accept this form of being a univer-
sity teacher in a natural way.
5 CONCLUSIONS
The analysis of the case study that proposes how to advance to-
wards a new identity for the teacher and a teaching culture that
incorporates interdisciplinarity in the university curriculum is of
importance (Monereo & Pozo, 2003), so that it will not merely
be a puzzle of contents and knowledge, the globality of which
nobody or almost nobody is aware. It is a sea-change that, as
has been shown in this case study, is of greater depth and impact
when applied to the whole degree course and not only through
some teachers. It involves changes in the way teachers understand
themselves, and acceptance of the interdisciplinarity of one part
of the curriculum, with all of what that entails for cooperation
and collaboration with other teachers. As reected in this study,
this change is no easy task. It requires time, training and learning
spaces, to accept this new form of being a teacher at university in
a natural way and to understand the curriculum accordingly.
FUNDING
This article is linked to the line of Active Education of the con-
solidated research group Ikasgura (GIU 14/08) of the University
of Basque Country
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How to cite this article: Alonso, I. J., & Berasategi, N. (2017). The
integrated curriculum, university teacher identity and teaching culture:
the effects of an interdisciplinary activity. Journal of New Approaches
in Educational Research, 6(2), 127-134. doi: 10.7821/naer.2017.7.235
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