Instructor Cost

Initial Publication Date: September 2, 2010

Leading classroom discussions that are interdisciplinary and delivering content to students that facilitates this form of education is costly. Time must be drawn from other activities and there are additional stresses associated with this form of teaching compared to discipline specific instruction.

Time Costs

  • Multidisciplinary Knowledge Accumulation
    • Budget sufficient time to obtain a deep understanding of the analytical structure and methodologies common to other disciplines to avoid offering superficial rather than rich multidisciplinary perspectives.
    • Be positioned to explain how each discipline has been used to address the issues under discussion including any potential shortcomings.
    • Know the evidence generated by scholars in various disciplines and how it compares to findings in other disciplines on the same topics.
  • Identification and Collection of Suitable Reading Materials
    • Interdisciplinary texts are difficult to find, which means that you must typically secure appropriate articles.
    • It takes time to identify and collect suitable reading materials not overly steeped in the jargon of a particular discipline if the course attracts students from a range of disciplines outside the home discipline of the instructor.
  • Classroom planning time
    • For large classes, faculty need to extend their conventional notes to incorporate interdisciplinary modes of analysis and reflection.
    • In seminar courses, faculty need to design a set of open-ended questions that probe topics under discussion from a wider range of perspectives.
  • Coordination time is necessary if a team approach is adopted.


  • Classroom Uncertainty
    • Interdisciplinary educators must be willing to revise or adapt class content during and after class in response to students' backgrounds, abilities, needs and queries.
    • Since the territory of interdisciplinary teaching is new, instructors may find this domain of limited control unsettling.
  • Student questions about how to synthesize and integrate may be far ranging and as they reenact modeling of integration, class dialogue may move into unexpected realms. To accommodate these developments instructors must be willing to relinquish control in the classroom periodically.
  • Avoiding Polarity - Polarity occurs when instructors in an interdisciplinary setting become territorial about their content area and its role in the analysis because they are threatened by another disciplines viewpoint. The pressure to avoid this behavior is stressful. The goal of presenting contrasting perspectives convincingly and sympathetically can be challenging to achieve and stressful to ensure, especially if a single educator is leading an interdisciplinary exploration (Caviglia-Harris and Hatley 2004).