An Exploration of Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Training: Currently Available Information, Perspectives, and Beliefs
Date of Award
Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences
Alicia S. Bouldin
John P. Bentley
University of Mississippi
Background and Objectives
Interdisciplinary research has come into the limelight over the last 30 years. Current literature identifies interdisciplinary research as having the potential to assist in solving complex contemporary problems or issues through the inclusion of multiple disciplinary perspectives to account for the systematic intricacies therein. This project served as an exploration of interdisciplinary graduate education, graduate interdisciplinary research training, and the practice of interdisciplinary research, using three primary objectives. We first sought to identify and present current information around interdisciplinary graduate education and research training. Second, study personnel aimed to explore opinions and beliefs on interdisciplinary education and interdisciplinary research held by graduate students. Lastly, this project aimed to understand the interest in and willingness of graduate faculty to teach interdisciplinary courses or experiences.
This project utilized a mixed-methods approach across three studies in pursuit of the project’s objectives. First a narrative review was conducted to ascertain and describe currently available information. A qualitative study utilizing semi-structured interviews was employed to understand the perspectives and beliefs held by graduate students and graduate faculty while also inquiring about their histories and interests around interdisciplinary education and research. Online quantitative surveys were used to further understand the interests, perspectives and beliefs held by graduate students around interdisciplinarity.
The narrative review identified 58 articles for inclusion and disseminated information within this project. The interviews found an interest in and belief of importance in interdisciplinary education and research held by graduate students and graduate faculty members. Graduate students were interested in and willing to take interdisciplinary courses and work on interdisciplinary research, while graduate faculty members believed in their ability to instruct interdisciplinary courses and were already conducting interdisciplinary research. The survey study found that graduate students report they believe they are ready, willing, and able to perform well in interdisciplinary education and research. Additionally graduate students reported a perceived importance of interdisciplinary research that was not significantly different from a perceived importance of disciplinary research.
Implications and Conclusions
Our initial hypotheses were supported. There is a common positive perception of the importance and value of interdisciplinary graduate education and research. Current literature supports its use and implementation, graduate students are interested in engaging and learning from interdisciplinary contexts, and faculty members are willing to teach through and already engage in interdisciplinary education and research. This project presents a rationale for further examination of interest in interdisciplinary graduate education, and discuses some benefits, barriers, and motivations associated with interdisciplinary education and research training that may help in improving the practice of interdisciplinary research among current graduate students and future professionals.
Allen, David, "An Exploration of Interdisciplinary Graduate Education and Training: Currently Available Information, Perspectives, and Beliefs" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2417.