S.15 – Making the Case

New Interdisciplinary Course Development Initiative at Horizon University

Case Overview

Horizon University has just launched a new initiative that will focus on supporting interdisciplinary course development and innovative teaching. These courses will be designed to support achievement of core competencies, investigate real world problems, and take advantage of unique capabilities afforded by digital technologies.

Because of your experience in an innovative Preparing Future Faculty program, and your knowledge of educational technology, you have been asked to be part of a design team that will develop and teach one of these courses. Successful courses will be used as models to inform the design of additional courses and share information about innovative teaching practices. The design team will include a Humanities scholar (you), a Biological Sciences faculty member, and an instructional designer from Horizon U.’s Center for Teaching and Learning. The team will have access to a $10,000 budget to support the implementation and use of digital technologies in the course. Importantly, the course is intended to provide students (approximately 25 per course) with an opportunity explore real-world problems in order to develop skills and competencies in the following areas:

  • Written Communication
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Ethic / Civic Responsibility
  • Critical Thinking
  • Oral Communication
  • Information / Digital Literacy

As a Humanities scholar you place significant value on process oriented approaches to learning, you believe that content functions as a vehicle to help students develop intellectual capacity and skills. Your instructional approach tends toward open-ended inquiry, information gathering and dialogue. Your Biological Sciences colleague who will be co-teaching with you, Dr. Sarah Venter, also values a process approach, but believes that content mastery is critical prior to engaging in real-world problem solving. She feels strongly that students need exposure to important biological concepts, and that traditional lecture-based approaches will best serve this need. There are many issues that the design team will need to reach consensus on as they engage in the process of developing this course…first among them may well be reaching an agreement about an instructional approach in the course.


Case Questions

As you consider this case and discuss it in your group, you will be asked to address the following questions:

1) What are your thoughts about what an interdisciplinary approach to teaching looks like? How will you begin to work through the different instructional approaches presented?


2) What are the most important issues you think need to be addressed as you move forward with the course design process?


3) Describe some sample learning activities you think would help students develop skills related to the core competencies. What does assessment consist of for these activities?


4) What are some possible uses you have in mind for the $10K educational technology budget? What are the most important things you need to consider in making these decisions?


5) How will you determine the success of your course in terms of helping students achieve the core competencies?