Although it is important to understand the basics of each subject individually, integrating different subjects in classes can be an incentive to expand and connect knowledge and a good way to prepare students to navigate the complex demands of the modern world.
A good example of subject integration is learning through projects. Learning by doing is not an invention of this century – Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746 – 1827) demanded and advocated a more effective approach to learning and teaching.
Effective learning is, above all, learning in which the student is active. Although traditional teaching, in which the student is mostly passive, has advantages, the knowledge gained through active learning is more permanent. In addition to learning with better results, improved memorisation and recall, and better preparation for life and work, it increases students’ motivation and supports the integration of key competencies. Also, active learning supports the use of content related to the topic at the very moment of its presentation, which results in greater and deeper involvement of students in the content of the topic and develops autonomy in learning.
An example of an approach to integrating subjects is present in this STEAM in Times project that we designed, whose activities include the integration of STEAM subjects. In this project, we have offered materials that make it easier for teachers to master the learning outcomes of STEAM subjects. It is essential to point out that the manipulations we have prepared and the accompanying pedagogical materials are suitable for elementary school students. With this approach, the demanding concepts of the STEAM field can be brought closer to younger students, which is often not an easy task. An active approach to learning through subject integration has several key advantages over the traditional approach to understanding each subject separately, including the following:
Contextual understanding: Integrating subject matter allows students to see connections between different areas of knowledge. This helps them create a deeper, more contextual account rather than isolated facts.
Development of critical thinking: This approach encourages critical thinking as students have to apply their knowledge to various real-life situations and problems. This helps them develop a wider range of skills and abilities, including critical thinking, analytical skills and creativity.
More comprehensive problem solving: An integrated approach allows students to make connections between different disciplines and apply that knowledge to more complex problems. This equips them to solve real problems that require multiple skills and knowledge.
Increasing motivation: Integrating subjects can increase students’ motivation because it allows them to see the purpose and practical application of their learning. They can better understand how knowledge is applied in the real world, which can stimulate their curiosity and interest in learning.
Preparing for the real world: The ability to connect knowledge from different disciplines can be critical to success in the real world. Jobs and complex global issues often require broad knowledge and the ability to work in teams with different experts.
Effectiveness in learning: Integrating subjects can help students better understand the wider context of their education. Instead of learning isolated information, they can develop deeper, more thorough knowledge useful in many aspects of their lives.
Pervan, M. (n.d.). PRISTUP NASTAVI KROZ PROJEKTNO UČENJE – EPALE – European Commission. EPALE – European Commission. https://epale.ec.europa.eu/hr/resource-centre/content/pristup-nastavi-kroz-projektno-ucenje
Juranko, G. (2016). Školski projekti: primjeri aktivnog učenja i poučavanja [Master’s thesis].