Challenges facing interdisciplinary researchers: Findings from a professional development workshop




Daniel, Kristy L.
McConnell, Myra
Schuchardt, Anita
Peffer, Melanie E.

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Public Library of Science


Interdisciplinary research is the synergistic combination of two or more disciplines to achieve one research objective. Current research highlights the importance of interdisciplinary research in science education, particularly between educational experts within a particular science discipline (discipline-based education researchers) and those who study human learning in a more general sense (learning scientists). However, this type of interdisciplinary research is not common and little empirical evidence exists that identifies barriers and possible solutions. We hosted a pre-conference workshop for Discipline-Based Educational Researchers and Learning Scientists designed to support interdisciplinary collaborations. We collected evidence during our workshop regarding barriers to interdisciplinary collaborations in science education, perceptions of perceived cohesion in participants' home university departments and professional communities, and the impact of our workshop on fostering new connections. Based on participants' responses, we identified three categories of barriers, Disciplinary Differences, Professional Integration, and Collaborative Practice. Using a post-conference survey, we found an inverse pattern in perceived cohesion to home departments compared to self-identified professional communities. Additionally, we found that after the workshop participants reported increased connections across disciplines. Our results provide empirical evidence regarding challenges to interdisciplinary research in science education and suggest that small professional development workshops have the potential for facilitating durable interdisciplinary networks where participants feel a sense of belonging not always available in their home departments.



education, interdisciplinary research, collaboration, workshops, science education


Daniel, K. L., McConnell, M., Schuchardt, A., & Peffer, M. E. (2022). Challenges facing interdisciplinary researchers: Findings from a professional development workshop. PLoS ONE, 17(4), pp. 1-16.


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