What Is an Integrative Teaching Strategy?

An integrative teaching strategy is one in which an educator presents interdisciplinary lessons that highlight connections between disciplines rather than isolated facts and lectures. While generally thought of as a higher education concept, integrative teaching has also had positive outcomes in the K-12 environment.

In the traditional higher education environment, the specialization of educators and large lecture hall environments often led to students only learning isolated facts and concepts through lecture-focused teaching. Utilizing an integrative teaching strategy instead means that educators focus not only on the facts and theories of their discipline, but relate those facts to other, related fields of study in a more interactive teaching model. It may also include applying skills and concepts into real-world practice, presenting contradictory points of view and explaining and modeling those concepts and theories in context.

One research project at the University of Colorado Boulder merged a physics curriculum with cognitive psychology. In this study, the integrative class model was clearly more successful. As compared to traditional lecture-style physics classes at the same school, the integrative class uniformly scored significantly higher on written exams and attendance improved by 20 percent.

In the K-12 environment, integrative teaching strategies are similarly applied with success, particularly in science-based curricula. In the case of younger learners, more basic combinations, such as reading comprehension and writing skills, enter into the science class in order to further engage learners and improve their overall understanding of not only scientific concepts, but also reading and language arts.