integrated curriculum

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An Integrated Curriculum: Advantages and Disadvantages:

An Integrated Curriculum: Advantages and Disadvantages Dr.Irphan Yonis Shammari (M.B.Ch.B) CSSP SC Dublin


INTRODUCTION The term curriculum traditionally refers to the teaching content in one subject area. An integrated curriculum (IC), in a nutshell, refers to the fusion of knowledge from different disciplines; the approach to learning and teaching from a variety of world-views, strategies, and resources; and the tapping of real-life situations for problem solving and critical thinking in the classroom.

Integrated Curriculum :

Integrated Curriculum Education that is organized in such as way that it cuts across subject-matter lines, bringing together various aspects of the curriculum into meaningful association to focus upon broad areas of study. It views learning and teaching in a holistic way and reflects the real world, which is interactive.


Benefits Students develop team spirit. Students have improved attitudes and work habits. Students have more motivation for learning when they work on “real” problems. Higher student attendance. Most teachers prefer an integrated curriculum over a traditional one.

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Fogarty’s ten levels of curricula integration

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Sequenced Similar ideas are taught in concert, although subjects are separate. Advantages Facilitates transfer of learning across content areas. Disadvantages Requires ongoing collaboration and flexibility, as teachers have less autonomy in sequencing curricula.


Webbed Thematic teaching, using a theme as a base for instruction in many disciplines. Advantages Motivating for students. Helps students to see connections between ideas. Disadvantages Theme must be carefully and thoughtfully selected to be meaningful, with relevant and rigorous content .


Integrated Priorities that overlap multiple disciplines are examined for common skills, concepts and attitudes. Advantages Encourages students to see interconnectedness and interrelationships among disciplines . Students are motivated as they see the connections. Disadvantages Requires interdepartmental teams with common planning and teaching time.

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Fragmented Separate and distinct disciplines . Advantages Clear and discreet view of a Discipline. Disadvantages Connections are not made clear for students. Less transfer of learning.

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Connected Topics within a discipline are connected. Advantages Key concepts are connected, leading to the review, reconceptualization and assimilation of ideas within a discipline. Disadvantages Connections are not made clear for students. Less transfer of learning.

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Nested Social, thinking and content skills are targeted within a subject area. Advantages Gives attention to several areas at once, leading to enriched and enhanced learning. Disadvantages Students may be confused and lose sight of the main concepts of the activity or lesson


Shared Team planning and/or teaching that involves two disciplines focuses on shared concepts, skills or attitudes. Advantages Shared instructional experiences. With two teachers on a team it is less difficult to collaborate. Disadvantages Requires time, flexibility, commitment, and compromise.


Threaded Thinking skills, social skills, multiple intelligences , and study skills are “threaded” throughout the disciplines. Advantages Students learn how they are learning, facilitation future transfer of learning. Disadvantages Disciplines remain separate


Immersed Learner integrated by viewing all learning through the perspective of one area of interest. Advantages Integration takes place within the learner . Disadvantages May narrow the focus of the learner.


Networked Learner directs the integration process through selection of a network of experts and resources Advantages Pro-active, with learner stimulated by new information, skills or concepts. Disadvantages Learner can be spread too thin, efforts become ineffective.

Integrated curriculum in medical teaching:

Integrated curriculum in medical teaching Learning to become a physician is different from research, however. Medical students need to fit things together as well as tease things apart. They need to learn the relationship between the parts, how to synthesize, how to see the big picture. Integration of the curriculum promotes a holistic and cross discipline approach to patients and their problems. It can also help promote learning in context. Discipline based learning focuses on clinical problems that are largely confined to individual medical specialities, for example, cardiology or psychiatry cases.

Advantages :

Advantages Promote learning in context. Higher learning objectives, such as application of knowledge and problem solving skills, are more easily met and irrelevant information is less likely to be included in the curriculum. In a spiral curriculum topics are revisited during the course; difficulty levels increase as topics are revisited; and new learning is related to previous learning, increasing students’ competence. An aim of multi- Professional learning, where students from different healthcare professions learn together, is to promote multiprofessional team working in graduates, but evidence is lacking as to whether this works.

On the other hand:

On the other hand Medical courses are less fragmented in an integrated curriculum. This encourages a more holistic view of a patient’s problems; increased motivation levels among students; better educational effectiveness of teaching because learnt material is applied; more emphasis on higher learning objectives, such as application of knowledge and problem solving skills; and promotion of staff communication and collaboration, with a more efficient use of teaching resources.


Disadvantages The fundamentals of a discipline may be neglected; some topics may be omitted; teachers may be less enthusiastic and less comfortable when not teaching in their own discipline; discipline based teaching may be cheaper; and students may develop a clearer picture of a discipline as a career in the discipline based method.


References Luafata Simanu-Klutz, Integrated Curriculum: A Reflection of Life Itself. November 1997. Lake, K. (1994, October 10, 2000). Integrated Curriculum. Retrieved August 25, 2002,

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