Challenges facing interdisciplinary researchers: Findings from a professional development workshop

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0267234
JournalPloS one
Issue number4 April
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
KLD, MM, AS, MF: This work was funded by the National Science Foundation grant (DUE #2017278). funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Daniel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Interdisciplinary Research
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Learning

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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