Psychology Courses / Course / Chapter

What is Integrated Curriculum?

Alexandrea Dillon, Shaundra Boyd
  • Author
    Alexandrea Dillon

    Alexandrea has taught secondary science for over six years. She has a bachelors degree in Teaching Secondary Science and a Masters of Education in Instructional Design. She's TESOL certified and a National Geographic Certified Educator. In addition, she was the spotlight educator for National Geographic in late 2019.

  • Instructor
    Shaundra Boyd
Learn the integrated curriculum definition. See the benefits of an integrated curriculum and how it is developed. Find integrated curriculum examples. Updated: 02/24/2022

What is an Integrated Curriculum?

Elementary and secondary education is currently divided into a M.E.S.S. What is this M.E.S.S. exactly? Math, English, Social Studies, and Science are divided into separate disciplines. Why did an entire world of learning with incredible depth and breadth become segmented in this way? In many ways, it doesn't make sense. The meaning of curriculum is a series of planned learning events that often build upon each other, with the goal of obtaining mastery of the topic. Every subject requires knowledge of other subjects. For example, a chemistry curriculum simply cannot be accessed without the basic knowledge of algebra. Social studies and history rely heavily on English reading skills, as both textbooks and historical documents require that background knowledge.

An excellent solution to fixing the M.E.S.S. is the integrated curriculum. What is integrated curriculum? The integrated curriculum definition is a curriculum that does away with the borders drawn around M.E.S.S. subjects and relies on unifying concepts and holistic learning to connect diverse areas of study. Learning this way makes critical connections for students and cuts across subject matter to emphasize key concepts. They aim to accomplish a greater level of critical thinking and understanding in students because the topics, when taught together, are mutually reemphasized.

Like many curricula, integrated curricula are often developed by instructional designers and curriculum developers. These curricula are broken down into two main approaches.

  1. The multidisciplinary approach has its primary focus on the disciplines themselves. For example, a multidisciplinary lesson on baking might include fractions, units of measurement, and ratios. These concepts are only categorized in math.
  2. The interdisciplinary approach requires teachers and instructional designers to organize the curriculum around common threads of learning across the involved disciplines. For example, an interdisciplinary lesson on baking might include fractions, catalysts, and recipes from early American settlers. These concepts can be categorized as math, chemistry, and history.

Both of these integrated curriculum examples would be powerful tools in helping students achieve their academic objectives using real-world examples and relevant instruction.


Integrated curriculum relies on unifying concepts and holistic learning to connect diverse areas of study.

Sharp colored pencils


Integrated Curriculum Benefits

There is a multitude of integrated curriculum benefits. An incomplete list can be found below.

  • Students with more flexible thinking patterns are more likely to be successful once reaching adulthood. It is unlikely that a student will be employed strictly in one content area upon reaching adulthood. For example, scientists must be able to appropriately communicate their ideas using language.
  • Integrated curriculum results in higher student engagement.
  • Critical connections between subjects are made, creating more holistic learning
  • Higher numbers of skill repetition in a more interesting way.
  • Differentiation, or modifying instructional content and strategies to fit the students currently being taught, is much easier using an integrated curriculum. Flexibility is built into the fabric of these curricula.
  • Integrated content tends to be more authentic as it is connected to previously acquired real-life knowledge.


Integrated curriculum results in more engaged students participating in authentic learning.

Happy student


What about teachers?

Teachers benefit a great deal from their students doing better in the classroom. Bored kids tend to act out more frequently, and an engaging curriculum often results in less need for behavioral management on behalf of the teacher. Experienced teachers can find the challenge of integrated curriculum refreshing. There are very few cons to the integrated curriculum for teachers, but they are important. Integrated units take significantly longer to plan. A teacher needs to spend a great deal of time creating a multidisciplinary lesson. An interdisciplinary unit would require teachers to find time to meet, brainstorm, align with standards, design instructional materials, and co-teach. In a world where teachers are often underpaid and overworked, it is a big undertaking regardless of its benefit to students and teachers.

Integrated Curriculum Examples

There are many integrated curriculum examples. Some boxed curricula can be purchased by parents or educational institutions for implementation. However, much more integrated instruction happens at the behest of dedicated teachers.

Expanding on the integrated curriculum examples given above, the following is a brief lesson plan for an interdisciplinary lesson on baking. This curriculum hopes to achieve greater student appreciation of early American settlers, understanding the importance of fractions in creating chemical reactions, and understanding how catalysts shape everyday life. It was designed by Mr. Grainley, a 5th-grade classroom teacher, to implement an integrated curriculum in his classroom.

Lesson 1:

The Integrated Curriculum

I remember learning in the classroom and being taught subjects in isolation. For example, I was only taught reading comprehension in reading class or math in only mathematics class but never in other subjects. I often wondered why some math concepts weren't taught in science since they somehow seemed to have a relationship. Has that ever happened to you?

Today, there is a focus on an integrated curriculum. An integrated curriculum is described as one that connects different areas of study by cutting across subject-matter lines and emphasizing unifying concepts. Integration focuses on making connections for students, allowing them to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that can be connected to real life. Can you imagine how an integrated curriculum can benefit your students? Understanding the benefits and how to effectively integrate curriculum can help teachers and students become more successful in the classroom.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Interactive Notebook Rubric Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 The Integrated Curriculum
  • 0:56 Benefits
  • 2:36 Examples
  • 4:06 Lesson Planning
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Benefits

Do you wonder why it is important to integrate curriculum? Think about how much you could learn in a classroom where you learn math, science and reading all in one lesson or teaching a theme-based unit that focuses on cultural diversity and incorporates core content area topics. When I taught through an integrated curriculum, my students showed higher signs of retention at an increased rate than when an integrated curriculum was not implemented. The reason for this is because they were able to more closely relate to content and make real-world connections in integrated curriculum approaches.

Students not only connect and create more real world connections in integrated classrooms, but they are also more actively engaged. Creating an integrated curriculum means that teachers are charged with having to create challenging, fun, meaningful tasks that help students connect to information. Creating a solar system unit that also requires oral language development and practice, reading comprehension skills and mathematics, can engage students far more than just a lesson on the solar system alone. Integration helps to achieve retention and engagement in classrooms, which yields higher mastery of content standards.

One final key benefit of an integrated curriculum is the ability for students to see skills multiple times. Instead of teaching comprehension strategies in just reading, teaching those strategies across multiple disciplines can give students an opportunity to see and implement it more often. The repetition of the skills being taught creates a higher level of understanding and retention of information for students in the classroom.

Examples

Think about the idea of integration as either a multidisciplinary approach or an interdisciplinary approach. A multidisciplinary approach focuses primarily on the disciplines. Teachers who use this approach organize standards from the disciplines around a theme. In an interdisciplinary approach, teachers organize the curriculum around common learnings across disciplines. They chunk together the common learnings embedded in the disciplines to emphasize interdisciplinary skills and concepts.

To create multidisciplinary integrated curriculum, develop a central theme focused on social studies and teach history, geography, economics and government in that thematic based unit. You may also achieve this by creating a mathematics thematic unit that teaches the relationship between fractions, percents, decimals and ratios. This will help students make connections to many disciplines.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Video Transcript

The Integrated Curriculum

I remember learning in the classroom and being taught subjects in isolation. For example, I was only taught reading comprehension in reading class or math in only mathematics class but never in other subjects. I often wondered why some math concepts weren't taught in science since they somehow seemed to have a relationship. Has that ever happened to you?

Today, there is a focus on an integrated curriculum. An integrated curriculum is described as one that connects different areas of study by cutting across subject-matter lines and emphasizing unifying concepts. Integration focuses on making connections for students, allowing them to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that can be connected to real life. Can you imagine how an integrated curriculum can benefit your students? Understanding the benefits and how to effectively integrate curriculum can help teachers and students become more successful in the classroom.

Benefits

Do you wonder why it is important to integrate curriculum? Think about how much you could learn in a classroom where you learn math, science and reading all in one lesson or teaching a theme-based unit that focuses on cultural diversity and incorporates core content area topics. When I taught through an integrated curriculum, my students showed higher signs of retention at an increased rate than when an integrated curriculum was not implemented. The reason for this is because they were able to more closely relate to content and make real-world connections in integrated curriculum approaches.

Students not only connect and create more real world connections in integrated classrooms, but they are also more actively engaged. Creating an integrated curriculum means that teachers are charged with having to create challenging, fun, meaningful tasks that help students connect to information. Creating a solar system unit that also requires oral language development and practice, reading comprehension skills and mathematics, can engage students far more than just a lesson on the solar system alone. Integration helps to achieve retention and engagement in classrooms, which yields higher mastery of content standards.

One final key benefit of an integrated curriculum is the ability for students to see skills multiple times. Instead of teaching comprehension strategies in just reading, teaching those strategies across multiple disciplines can give students an opportunity to see and implement it more often. The repetition of the skills being taught creates a higher level of understanding and retention of information for students in the classroom.

Examples

Think about the idea of integration as either a multidisciplinary approach or an interdisciplinary approach. A multidisciplinary approach focuses primarily on the disciplines. Teachers who use this approach organize standards from the disciplines around a theme. In an interdisciplinary approach, teachers organize the curriculum around common learnings across disciplines. They chunk together the common learnings embedded in the disciplines to emphasize interdisciplinary skills and concepts.

To create multidisciplinary integrated curriculum, develop a central theme focused on social studies and teach history, geography, economics and government in that thematic based unit. You may also achieve this by creating a mathematics thematic unit that teaches the relationship between fractions, percents, decimals and ratios. This will help students make connections to many disciplines.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the characteristics of an integrated curriculum?

The integrated curriculum does away with the borders drawn around traditional subjects and relies on unifying concepts and holistic learning to connect diverse areas of study. They can be interdisciplinary, in which multiple subjects are included, or multidisciplinary, in which multiple topics in the same subject are integrated.

What are the benefits of an integrated curriculum?

Integrated curricula have a variety of important benefits. Students tend to be more engaged through holistic, authentic learning, resulting in more flexible and critical thinking.

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Resources created by teachers for teachers

Over 30,000 video lessons & teaching resources‐all in one place.
Video lessons
Quizzes & Worksheets
Classroom Integration
Lesson Plans

I would definitely recommend Study.com to my colleagues. It’s like a teacher waved a magic wand and did the work for me. I feel like it’s a lifeline.

Jennifer B.
Teacher
Jennifer B.
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account