What is the difference between Inter / Trans / Multi / -disciplinary?

In their article “Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness “, Choi and Pak (2006) share analogies for the different terms and I found this so easy to understand and remember:

Interdisciplinary is a stew/melting pot because ingredients are partially distinguishable.

Multidisciplinary is a mixed salad where the ingredients remain separate and distinguishable.

Transdisciplinary is a cake because the ingredients, mixed together, create something new and different.

Let’s think about it and be precise! I believe that an inquiry-based curriculum should be transdisciplinary in the Elementary school because we can use a concept-driven approach and transfer the understanding to new contexts. In the secondary school, it’s often needed to more to interdisciplinary to go deeper into a particular subject in order to make connections between other subject. Multidisciplinary is perhaps less closed and static because all elements remains separate.

Leave a Reply