Essay on Interdisciplinary: Physical Education and Other Content Area

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Interdisciplinary: Physical Education and Other Content Area
Constructivists view learners as active and constructive meaning makers. Learning occurs best when students make connections between their previous knowledge and current learning, when students are actively engaged in learning process, and when students collaborate with their peers and teachers (Dewey, 1988; Piaget, 1970; Vygotsky, 1978). Supporting the constructivist view of learning, brain researchers note that the brain uses previous experiences to organize new information and searches for meaning from those experiences. The brain perceives and processes information in an interconnected and holistic manner (Caine & Caine, 1991, Cromwell, 1989). In order to help students formulate deep understanding, it is crucial for teachers to provide students with meaningful and integrated learning experiences, to bridge gaps between concrete examples and abstracted concepts, to engage students in knowledge application and problem solving processes, and to create supportive and cooperative learning environment. Interdisciplinary teaching is viewed as one of the effective teaching approaches to meet the educational aims (Lancaster & Rikard, 2002; Lipson, Walencia, Wixson, & Peters, 1993). It integrates two or more subject areas into meaningful association in order to enhance and enrich students learning in each subject area (Cone, Werner, Cone, & Woods, 1998). Interdisciplinary teaching through physical education has received a great deal of attention by K-12 physical educators and teacher educators. Proponents view movement as an effective vehicle for providing integrative, concrete, and authentic contexts to extend and enhance students' learning of abstracted concepts in other subject areas (Christie, 2000; Cone et al., 1998). Through interdisciplinary teaching in physical education, the primary focus of learning movement concepts and motor skills would be enriched and complemented. A supplementary focus of helping students make meanings of abstract concepts in another subject area also would be augmented and reinforced. However, how teachers design integrated learning tasks and enact interdisciplinary teaching practices in a physical education setting to support this theoretical hypothesis still remains an untapped research area.
Physical education is a prime content area for interdisciplinary learning. The movement components of physical education can be used as a medium through which children are provided with opportunities to practice and strengthen language skills (Griffin & Morgan, 1998). Cone, Werner, Cone, and Woods (1998, p. 4) agree: "Interdisciplinary learning is an educational process in which two or more subject areas are integrated with the goal of fostering enhanced learning in each subject area."