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Article

Interdisciplinary curricula provide students the opportunity to work with knowledge drawn from multiple disciplines. Following suit, interdisciplinary learning requires interaction of knowledge from different disciplines; integration of knowledge from different disciplines; and an overarching topic, theme, or problem that shapes the learning experience. Since the university curriculum is commonly structured by academic disciplines, and faculty are socialized to their respective disciplinary norms, interdisciplinarity is a complex endeavor for colleges and universities. These endeavors include developing interdisciplinary courses, sustaining interdisciplinary initiatives, and financing interdisciplinary programs. Given the multiple challenges facing 21st-century society, the question of interdisciplinarity is urgent. How knowledge is defined and disseminated; how and what students learn; and how higher education can be responsive to its external environment are crucial issues facing educators. Responding to these issues does not diminish the role of the discipline in education, but rather acknowledges that knowledge is unbounded and potential discoveries lie outside compartmentalized structures.

Article

Chris Forlin and Dianne Chambers

Special education has undergone continued transformation since societies began to provide an increasing number of specialized, segregated facilities for children with like needs during the 20th century. Since then, there has been a worldwide movement against a segregated approach and toward greater inclusion of students with disabilities into regular schools. The provision of a dual special education and regular school system, nevertheless, remains in existence, even though there has been a strong emphasis on a more inclusive approach since the latter half of the 20th century. As regular schools become more inclusive and teachers more capable of providing appropriate modifications for most students with learning needs, simultaneously there has been an increase in the number of students whose needs are so severe that schools have not been able to accommodate them. While these children and youth have special needs, they are invariably not related to an identified disability but fall more into a category of diversity. In particular, students who are excluded from schools due to severe infringements, those who are disenfranchised from school and refuse to attend, and those with severe emotional, behavioral, or mental health issues are not being serviced by the existing dual system. For these students neither existing special schools that cater to students with disabilities nor regular inclusive schools provide an appropriate education. The provision of a complementary and alternatively focused education to cater to the specific needs of these marginalized students seems to be developing to ensure sustainability of education and to prepare these new groups of students for inclusion into society upon leaving school. This tripartite approach highlights a new era in the movement toward a sustainable, inclusive education system that caters to the needs of all students and specifically those with the most challenging and diverse requirements.

Article

Norazlinda Saad and Surendran Sankaran

Technology proficiency is the ability to use technology to communicate effectively and professionally, organize information, produce high-quality products, and enhance thinking skills. In classroom settings, technology proficiency refers to the ability of teachers to integrate technology to teach and facilitate, as well as to improve learning, productivity, and performance. These abilities are needed to participate in a technological world. Technology proficiency enables teachers to identify and explore a wide variety of technological tools and devices in order to determine and select those that best respond to teaching and learning contents. Among teachers, basic proficiency in information technologies is typically used to communicate electronically, organize activities and information, and create documents in schools or higher-education institutions. Proficiency in using technological tools and devices can be achieved through experience and instruction. It is necessary to introduce experimentation into teaching practices and maintain accessible technological tools and devices. Technology proficiency seems relevant to many aspects of the teaching profession, such as lesson preparation and development of teaching kids. Other aspects that impact teacher decisions to introduce technology into teaching and learning activities are teachers’ beliefs about the way the subject should be taught and the skills associated with teacher competence in managing classroom activities using technology tools and devices. Therefore, teachers must be able to apply the technological knowledge and skills required in professional job roles and responsibilities in order to achieve the expected outputs. As an educator in the 21st century, it is imperative to integrate technology into the curriculum for a variety of reasons. Students need to be exposed to and be familiar with technologies in order to compete in the world marketplace, and they need to be able to integrate them in dynamic social environments. The world is dominated by technology in all forms, and to be successful, students must possess 21st-century skills. In addition, technology proficiency improves efficiency in teaching and facilitating. Being more efficient usually means that teachers have more time, and it allows additional space for innovation, planning, conversing, thinking, and creativity. Technology can be instrumental in making teachers more efficient.

Article

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over half of the 25.4 million refugees worldwide are children under the age of 18. Given the instability and precariousness that displaced persons may experience, the provision of education for these children is of significant concern. Interaction between the culture of the host society and the cultures of immigrants, including experiences related to education, is a key aspect of transitioning to a new national environment. These interactions may be particularly salient for displaced populations, considering the particular circumstances and life trajectories that are characteristic of refugees and generally not shared by other immigrant groups. Empirical research on refugee children’s education in resettlement countries highlights the significance of acculturative processes for experiences and outcomes of schooling, as well as the importance of educational settings in facilitating cultural interaction—that is, the interlocking and complementary nature of acculturation and education. Education and cultural navigation are linked in significant ways, such that even as education facilitates the cultural exposure and integration of newcomer individuals to a receiving society, acculturation itself is associated with adaptation to the school context and academic experiences. In other words, educational and acculturative processes can facilitate and reinforce each other. Additional research that examines more specifically processes of cultural navigation by refugee children in particular can further illuminate the factors that shape their experience of education in resettlement contexts.

Article

M. Anne Britt and Jean Rouet

Multiple document comprehension refers to people’s acquisition of information from more than one document for the purpose of achieving their goals. Comprehending single documents involves constructing a long-term memory representation in which text contents get integrated with the reader’s prior knowledge. Both text structure and readers’ goals are important in determining which information is included in the reader’s memory representation. In multiple document comprehension, documents are associated with distinct source features and they do not have to follow the coherence and cohesion principles that define single documents. Thus, multiple document comprehension involves several additional challenges, including selecting documents, making strategic reading decisions, and sourcing. The documents model framework (DMF) proposed two additional representations beyond those of single-document comprehension: an intertext model based on identifying and interpreting the document sources and an integrated situation model based on representing conceptual connections across documents organized around the structure of the interpreted task. The RESOLV model extended the DMF by proposing that readers formulate their reading task within a larger physical and social situation (a context model), creating goals and methods to achieve those goals (a task model). One such task situation that has received research attention presents people with documents that describe discrepant accounts of some event. The discrepancy-induced source comprehension (DISC) hypothesis predicted that readers would use source information via an intertext model to resolve the contradictory information in their situation models. Several issues that are the focus of current research include understanding the factors that influence coherence across documents, creating interventions to help students become aware of multiple document challenges, and improving our understanding of the developmental trajectory for learning these skills and how they build upon more basic literacy skills.

Article

Randall B. Lindsey, Delores B. Lindsey, and Raymond D. Terrell

School desegregation efforts begun in the 1960s through to the 1980s persist into the 21st century. School leadership for desegregation began in the late 20th century. School leadership efforts began in the early 1960s with compliance-based responses focused on court-ordered and government directives in pursuit of equality with an eye to societal integration. Leadership for desegregation is a legal response to de jure and de facto segregation as practiced in social, political, and economic systems throughout U.S. history. Efforts at more equal opportunities for historically marginalized students have, over time, evolved into an equity focus that holds a value for educating children and youth whether in integrated settings or not. By the turn of the 21st century, leadership efforts for equity began to recognize the need to provide access and opportunity to all students in all settings. Four distinct chronological periods of school desegregation have evolved: desegregation leadership experiences, 1950s–1970s—mandated, minimum compliance; school desegregation leadership experiences, 1970s–1990s—supported by Emergency School Aid Act; school desegregation leadership experiences, 1990s–2015—Emergency School Aid Act and resegregation; and school desegregation experiences, 2015 to the present and predictable future.

Article

James A. Beane

An integrative curriculum is intended to help young people organize and integrate their present experiences so that they might be carried forward for the benefit of both self and the common good. As such, this kind of curriculum has historically been proposed as a preferred design for a general education intended for all students, particularly in programs meant to promote democratic living and learning. An integrative curriculum involves arrangements and methods that engage students in identifying self and social issues, critiquing the status of society and the common good, planning for new learning experiences, accessing resources, researching and solving problems, communicating ideas, collaborating with others, and reflecting on the meaning and value of experiences. Crucial to the use of the term “integrative” is the idea that individuals do their own integrating. This definition distinguishes an integrative curriculum from “integrated” curriculum organizations, such as “multidisciplinary” or “interdisciplinary,” in which teachers and others correlate content and skills from two or more subject areas with the intention of illustrating connections among them or making their content more accessible and engaging for students. Use of an integrative approach has a long history tied to progressive and democratic arrangements in elementary and secondary schools. These include CORE Programs, the experience-centered approach to curriculum, and many problem-centered courses. At present, some integrated approaches are enjoying popularity, as are methods like project- and problem-centered activities that are historically associated with integrative approaches. However, the student-centered, democratic philosophy that partly defines an integrative curriculum approach has waned under pressure from bureaucratic subject-based standards, tests, and prescriptive curriculum plans.

Article

Antonio Alfaro Fernández and Beatriz Villora Galindo

For decades and due to the dire situations that exist in many African countries, the migratory phenomenon to Europe has witnessed an unprecedented increase. The desire to seek a better future, to flee from poverty, hunger, and war, among other reasons, has caused the victims to employ legal or illegal means to leave their country and reach Europe. The receiving countries have increased the restrictions to welcome immigrants from African countries, which means the arrival of migrants by illegal means has grown spectacularly. Likewise, this situation has caused trafficking in persons, especially women, to become a common phenomenon in Europe. Spain, due to its geographical location, is one of the countries where the greatest number of people are exploited. The eradication of this problem involves the identification of the exploited and liberation from their captors. But the problem does not end with their release; psychological and educational intervention is essential to achieve their integration. The importance of designing and developing educational programs are main objectives, including language learning, professional training, establishing good habits of nutrition and hygiene, and providing alternatives for leisure and free time. These education programs, designed for adults, should be initiated in shelter houses where the victims are first placed. Multidisciplinary teams formed by professionals in education, psychology, nursing, and social work can cooperatively help the victims, offering the best method for successful integration. The final objective is to provide competences to the people included in the program, who can then leave the shelters, join the local community, and live autonomously and independently in the host society.

Article

The early integration of disabled pupils in Italian schools and the parallel disbanding of special schools have given this country a pivotal role as an example of total inclusion, to be studied and imitated or criticized for its weak points. A better understanding of the singularity of the Italian case can be gained from studying the history of this process. In the 1970s, Italy arrived at revolutionary legislation that was driven by democratic values but also by a utopian, as well as courageous, spirit. The Italian state had long ignored the rights of disabled children and adults, recognizing the rights of only the war disabled. In the first decades of the republican state, after World War II, segregation and exclusion dominated the seducational and psychiatric scenarios. But researching the history of Italian special education leads to the discovery of a tradition of excellent special schools and institutes and of pedagogical and medical theories and practices, quite advanced for their time, that respected the dignity of the person and aimed to integrate them through work. In spite of the great names of doctors and educationalists, both Catholic and secular, such as De Sanctis, Montessori, Montesano, and Gemelli to name just a few, and their high level of specialization, society struggled to keep pace. The state did not support special education, leaving it to priests and doctors. Rich northern cities were able to provide better structures for disabled children. Moreover, children with sensory and physical disabilities, who were considered clever and therefore educable, received attention and had highly specialized schools in the 19th century. Only at the beginning of the 20th century were the needs of children with mental disabilities properly addressed through a pedagogical and medical approach. The great scientific advancements, however, got partially lost in common practice, and after World War II the school and welfare systems struggled to cope with a rising number of institutionalized children. The changes brought about by a new generation of psychiatrists, led by F. Basaglia, and educationalists who were antifascist and could not tolerate the segregation and exclusion of institutes; the radical spirit of 1968; and a new widespread consciousness of the shame of segregation for a democratic state produced revolutionary legislation that aimed at genuine inclusion. The history of Italian special education is quite recent; hence, it still draws on local and national studies. But the work done so far allows us to reconstruct the path of this process, which has not been linear, and shows the tensions, the continuity, and the innovation, as well as the steps backward. An inclusion policy concerns universal anti-discriminatory legislative measures, but this article, while refererring when necessary to other categories, focusses on disabled persons and their educational inclusion.

Article

Community-based educational programs (CBEPs) have been recommended as a successful strategy for improving students’ results, family involvement, and community and social cohesion. However, research has shown that not all CBEPs generate the same results. An analysis of the social impact of community-based educational programs enables us to identify programs that achieve better social results and provide evidence of the extent to which these results contribute to improving citizens’ lives. To this end, this study describes the social impact of social improvements achieved as a consequence of implementing community-based educational programs informed by research and how those improvements contribute to addressing existing societal challenges and goals (such as EU2020 targets and Sustainable Development Goals).

Article

Sergio Andrés Cabello and Joaquín Giró Miranda

Treatment of cultural and religious diversity is one of the most important debates in education, especially in societies in the first decades of the 21st century, in which globalization processes have led to increased migration. Different models exist for addressing religious and cultural diversity in compulsory education, linked to the different ways of approaching the integration of immigrant groups. The treatment of diversity, equality, and respect for fundamental rights are the axes on which most of these proposals revolve, which in the case of the religious issue acquire specific dimensions by generating a wider debate. In the Spanish case, the treatment of cultural diversity and, fundamentally, religious diversity is situated both within the framework of general conceptions and with particular elements. The contemporary scenario of how the Spanish educational system addresses cultural and religious diversity is determined from the particular features of Spanish education and the immigration “boom” in Spain in much of the first decade of the 21st century. The evolution of legislation on diversity, the fact that education is a subject for ideological debate, and the need to face the challenge of a new social structure because of immigration, together with the importance of the Catholic Church in Spain, determine to a large extent the way this country has addressed religious diversity. The treatment of religious and cultural diversity continues to generate an important discussion in Spain, based on different theories about the topic.

Article

Few would deny that processes of globalization have impacted education around the world in many important ways. Yet the term “globalization” is relatively new, and its meaning or nature, conceptualization, and impact remain essentially contested within the educational research community. There is no global consensus on the exact time period of its occurrence or its most significant shaping processes, from those who focus on its social and cultural framings to those that hold global political-economic systems or transnational social actors as most influential. Intersecting questions also arise regarding whether its influence on human communities and the world should be conceived of as mostly good or mostly bad, which have significant implications for debates regarding the relationship between globalization and education. Competing understandings of globalization also undergird diverse methodologies and perspectives in expanding fields of research into the relationship between education and globalization. There are many ways to frame the relationship of globalization and education. Scholars often pursue the topic by examining globalization’s perceived impact on education, as in many cases global convergence around educational policies, practices, and values has been observed in the early 21st century. Yet educational borrowing and transferal remains unstraightforward in practice, as educational and cultural differences across social contexts remain, while ultimate ends of education (such as math competencies versus moral cultivation) are essentially contested. Clearly, specificity is important to understand globalization in relation to education. As with globalization generally, globalization in education cannot be merely described as harmful or beneficial, but depends on one’s position, perspective, values, and priorities. Education and educators’ impacts on globalization also remain a worthwhile focus of exploration in research and theorization. Educators do not merely react to globalization and related processes, but purposefully interact with them, as they prepare their students to respond to challenges and opportunities posed by processes associated with globalization. As cultural and political-economic considerations remain crucial in understanding globalization and education, positionality and research ethics and reflexivity remain important research concerns, to understand globalization not just as homogeneity or oppressive top-down features, but as complex and dynamic local and global intersections of people, ideas, and goods, with unclear impacts in the future.

Article

Research shows that for decades, there have been attempts to implement information and communication technology (ICT) in schools, but it has had a weak uptake among teachers thus far. One of the reasons for this lack of integration is that teachers perceive ICT as an additional load on their everyday practices that would increase the complexity of their roles. Teachers are therefore often cautious and sceptical about ICT implementation because it is often not properly attached to deeply entrenched school structure. Adaptive learning tools have provided new opportunities to facilitate this integration. Adaptive learning tools are expected to contribute to the customization and personalization of pupil learning by continually calibrating and adjusting pupils’ learning activities to their skill and competence levels. However, it is important to discuss whether adaptive learning tools need to be sufficiently anchored in the curriculum, in formative assessment, in adaptive education, and in homework to achieve their potential. In this way, we can obtain an understanding of how a systematic implementation of adaptive learning tools influences the learning outcomes, learning environment, and motivation of pupils in school, when such tools are attached to the deeply entrenched structures in school. In such implementation processes it seems like we need to reconsider the value of homework to achieve, for example, sufficient volume training and root learning with adaptive learning tools, thus freeing up time for practical mathematics and deep learning at school. Importantly, this requires a digital competence among teachers, where the critical factor is the teacher’s ability to create a teaching doctrine in which technology use is justified by didactic choices.

Article

In Germany, at the beginning of the 2000s, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) not only served as a catalyst for the development and implementation of an overall strategy for quality assurance and development of the state school systems. The school effectiveness movement has also brought the issue of educational inequality, which had been lost out of sight in the 1980s, back on the agenda. In ongoing reforms, the improvement of the educational success of children and young people with a migration history and/or a socioeconomically deprived family background has been declared a priority. However similar to the situation in Anglo-American countries, where output-oriented and data-driven school reforms have been implemented since the 1980s, considerable tensions and contradictions became visible between the New Educational Governance and a human rights- and democracy-oriented school development. A Foucauldian discourse analysis of central education and integration policy documents at the federal political level from 1964 to 2019 examined how, and with what consequences, demands of inclusion, social justice, and democracy were incorporated, (re)conceptualized, distorted, or excluded in the New Educational Governance, which was a new type of school reform in Germany. The results of the study indicate that the new regulations of school development are far from shaping school conditions in a human rights–based understanding of inclusion and democratic education. The plethora of measures taken to improve the school success of children and young people with a history of migration (in interaction with other dimensions of inequality such as poverty, gender, or special educational needs) is undermined by a far-reaching depoliticization of discourse and normative revaluations. In the interplay of epistemology, methodology, and categories of school effectiveness research with managerialist steering instruments, spaces for democratic school development and educational processes, in which aspects of plurality, difference, and discrimination can be thematized and addressed in concerted professional action, appear to be systematically narrowed or closed. But the case of Germany also discloses some opposed tendencies, associated with the strengthened human rights discourse and new legislation to combat discrimination.

Article

Sergio Andres Cabello and Joaquín Giró Miranda

Education is one of the pillars of the welfare state in Spain, and one of the main ways of reducing inequalities and, potentially, integrating members of the immigrant population. Schools serve to promote social and cultural integration of foreign students and their families. Spain, although its history as a country of immigration has been short, has been quite efficient in integrating the emigrant population, especially at school. It is important to bear in mind that schools and the school environment are the main point of encounter between families of different cultures. There were significant difficulties incorporating foreign students in schools in the first decade of this century. The importance of integration in the process of normalizing relations between immigrant families and schools has been indisputable. However, one of the main difficulties with this integration has been the poorer performance and academic achievement of foreign students in the Spanish education system. Foreign students’ performance is significantly different. For example, they achieve significantly lower grades in the different standardized tests (Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)), e.g., and higher rates of dropout, academic failure, and grade repetition. However, it is also true that these differences are significantly smaller for second-generation students born in Spain of immigrant parents. Faced with these facts, there have been numerous theoretical analyses and research projects that have tried to determine which variables affect this situation and which of them can be attributed to immigration, excluding any other socioeconomic factors. The results and the academic attainment of foreign- and immigrant-origin students in the Spanish education system are associated with some factors attributed to immigration. One of the most important is school segregation processes and their consequences for the educational and social integration of this group. Likewise, the financial crisis that has affected public policy and the Spanish welfare system, with the resulting budget cuts in education, has conditioned compensatory measures and attention to diversity.

Article

In the early 21st century, school leaders play an important role—mediating between political ambitions and policies on the one hand and local conditions in schools and classrooms on the other. Mediating between general policies and local needs and constraints becomes increasingly challenging in diverse and complex societies. One interesting element of this dilemma is how to handle the balance between inclusion and segregation of children who have difficulties following mainstream teaching. In such cases, educational policies have to be interpreted in the context of the needs and prospects of specific individuals; that is, school leaders have to close the gap between the general (policy) and the specific (students and their capacities). When engaging in such decisions, school leaders as mediators rely on categories that characterize students and their abilities. In recent decades, neuropsychiatric categories, especially attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD), have played an increasingly prominent role when such decisions are made, and this is an international phenomenon. An interesting set of problems that has not been the focus of much research is how school leaders perceive such dilemmas of deciding on the educational futures of children. In addition, we know little about what happens when children, after being diagnosed with ADHD, are placed in special educational groups. Important issues at this level concern what the teaching and learning situation they encounter is like, and what the likelihood is that participation in such special educational groups will improve their opportunities for the future. In other words, what are the gains and losses of such placements for students, and does the placement in a special educational group contribute to a successful educational career? Swedish school leaders emphasize the dilemmas they perceive in such high-stakes situations when the diagnosis ADHD is invoked as the main explanation for learning difficulties, since the most frequent outcome is segregation and placement in a special teaching group. In addition, research shows that the instructional strategies dominating these segregated settings are highly individualized forms of teaching, where often one teacher is instructing one student. Despite this arrangement, it is found that the students do not actively contribute to the instructional activities and dialogues; rather, it is the teacher who dominates the instruction. The question raised is whether exposure to such special educational practices will prepare children for a return to their regular classroom. If this is not the case, the dilemma is that the educational solution offered risks being counterproductive in the sense that the student will be even further away from reintegration into mainstream classrooms.

Article

Stephen M. Ritchie

STEM education in schools has become the subject of energetic promotion by universities and policymakers. The mythical narrative of STEM in crisis has driven policy to promote STEM education throughout the world in order to meet the challenges of future workforce demands alongside an obsession with high-stakes testing for national and international comparisons as a proxy for education quality. Unidisciplinary emphases in the curriculum have failed to deliver on the goal to attract more students to pursue STEM courses and careers or to develop sophisticated STEM literacies. A radical shift in the curriculum toward integrated STEM education through multidisciplinary/ interdisciplinary/ transdisciplinary projects is required to meet future challenges. Project-based activities that engage students in solving real-world problems requiring multiple perspectives and skills that are authentically assessed by autonomous professional teachers are needed. Governments and non-government sponsors should support curriculum development with teachers, and their continuing professional development in this process. Integrating STEM with creative expression from the arts shows promise at engaging students and developing their STEM literacies. Research into the efficacy of such projects is necessary to inform authorities and teachers of possibilities for future developments. Foci for further research also are identified.