Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Musial, Diann||Pickle, Judy Fay, 1943-

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Holistic education--Illinois--West Chicago--Case studies


The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of interdisciplinary instructional methods on high school students’ attendance, engagement, and connected thinking by comparing it to unidisciplinary instruction. This comparative case study collected both quantitative and qualitative data to answer five research questions related to attendance, metacognition, connected thinking, engagement, and teachers’ perceptions. This study compares two programs of study and involves 71 students in a suburban midwestern high school. The unidisciplinary program offers content in two separate classes of English and social studies. The other program offers similar content in a single interdisciplinary class taught by a team of an English and a social studies teacher. Data sources for the study include statistical analysis of attendance, classroom observations, a student survey, a student writing sample, and teacher interviews. The study examined attendance patterns. The data display no difference between the attendance patterns of interdisciplinary students and unidisciplinary students. In a student survey, the junior unidisciplinary students scored higher in their perceptions of engagement and personal connections to class content when compared to the perceptions of freshmen interdisciplinary students. When freshman perceptions of engagement and personal connections in both groups are compared, no difference is apparent. However, teacher interviews indicate that the interdisciplinary students are more able to make learning connections. Therefore, this study is unable to conclusively demonstrate a difference between the awareness of connections in the two groups. Interdisciplinary students displayed more connected thinking than unidisciplinary students on a writing sample, which supported the comments made in the teacher interviews. However, this consistent positive result is not statistically significant. The data indicate that interdisciplinary instruction positively affects student holistic engagement. Teacher interviews reveal more in-depth analysis, ability to make learning connections, motivation, and cooperation in interdisciplinary students than in unidisciplinary students. The study concludes with a discussion of the future aims of education. Interdisciplinary instruction may offer certain gains in the way students learn for educators who desire this learning to be connected and holistic.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [182]-198).


xvi, 205 pages




Northern Illinois University

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