Background and purpose
Lack of consensus regarding the benefits of an integrated curriculum, and ambiguity concerning what is being integrated within a pharmacy curriculum exists, but how an integrated curriculum is viewed, epistemologically, and subsequently incorporated into teaching practice has not been investigated. This study explores how educators conceptualize, experience and enact curricula integration both pedagogically and organizationally.
Educational activity and setting
In-depth qualitative interviews with faculty members purposively sampled for maximum variation in disciplinary background and teaching experience were undertaken at a single site. Interviews addressed two research questions: how pharmacy educators understand an integrated curriculum and educators’ experiences of it.
Findings and discussion
Analysis of the interview data suggests four essential meanings of integration: integration as a method for organizing teaching and learning; integration as enacted by self and others; integration as tension between conflicting knowledge domains; and integration as an impossible concept to apply to teaching practice. Analysis suggests that integration is an abstract rather than enacted concept and although integration is viewed as learner-centered, integration is complex and associated with a loss of in-depth learning.
Differences in how faculty members conceptualize the purpose and effects of integration mean that the level and type of integration reported varied. A clearer understanding of the rationale for change, and methods for better applying theory of integration to teaching practice, may be needed to achieve curriculum standards required by bodies accrediting undergraduate pharmacy programs.