Using Wicked problems to foster interdisciplinary practice among UK trainee teachers

Kate Hawkey, Jon James, Celia Tidmarsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
191 Downloads (Pure)


An uncertain world characterised by the complexity associated with ‘Wicked’ problems presents formidable challenges for the preparation of teachers. This paper reports on one cycle in a larger action research project in which subject specialist trainee teachers worked in inter-disciplinary groups to design and run classroom-based workshops on climate change for students aged 12-14. While the project sought to explore interdisciplinary working, subject specialisms and their values were not abandoned, recognising that diversity can lead to more powerful, collective knowledge being generated. The Wicked problem of climate change was initially examined from different subject perspectives, identifying the opportunities that the work afforded in each subject, along with the challenges that accompanied them. The findings suggest that trainee teachers valued the collaboration and the opportunity to develop different pedagogical approaches used by different subjects. The framing of the project around a Wicked problem supported trainee teachers in understanding that no one subject had an authoritative prerogative over the topic while the disquiet that the interdisciplinary project provoked, in some cases, served to instigate new transformative learning which stretched beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-460
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Education for Teaching
Issue number4
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Submitted Feb 2018

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Teaching Learning and Curriculum


  • Wicked problems; interdisciplinarity; teacher education


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