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Integrative Disciplinary Concepts: The Case of Psychological Literacy


Formal education systems tend to emphasize the acquisition of knowledge to the detriment of other types of learning, but it is vital now to conceive education in a more encompassing fashion. (Learning: The Treasure Within, UNESCO, 1996) In 1996, a UNESCO report entitled Learning: The Treasure Within (Delors et al., 1996) identified four ‘pillars’ of learning that should inform curriculum development in the 21st Century: Learning to know (learning how to learn); Learning to do (learning vocational and professional skills, and how to apply knowledge beyond the classroom); Learning to be (learning to deploy independence, judgment, and personal responsibility); and Learning to live together (learning to understand diversity and respect in ways that can resolve challenges and conflicts). Importantly, the four pillars inform an approach to curriculum design that unites content and pedagogy through the use of integrative values, such as ‘democratic participation in society’, and ‘learning throughout life’. Such integration between discipline and pedagogy, where “the subject matter is selected, organised and formulated for the purpose of teaching and learning” (Deng, 2007: 504) can maximise outcomes for learners, but can also be of significant benefit to educators. In this chapter, we will introduce theoretical perspectives that integrate discipline and pedagogy, before presenting a specific integrative disciplinary concept (IDC), that of Psychological Literacy. In recent years, at least in the UK, US, and Australia, there have been moves to structure the psychology curriculum around this unifying concept (Halpern, 2010; Trapp et al., 2011). Psychological literacy represents a focus not only on immersing students in the subject matter of psychology, but also equipping them with the skills to apply psychology to all domains of life. As a result, pedagogy is intrinsically bound to the notion of discipline, as teaching and assessment decisions are made with a consideration of what graduates will do with what they learn from their psychology degree. We will then consider how an IDC such as psychological literacy might offer one way to minimise educators’ vulnerability to the effects of pedagogic frailty. We will close by offering some tentative recommendations for promoting the use of IDCs across the disciplines.

Publication Date Mar 23, 2017
Pages 93 -107
Book Title Pedagogic Frailty and Resilience in the University
ISBN 9789463009829
Keywords psychological literacy, pedagogic frailty, teaching innovation, higher education

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