INTERDISCIPLINARY COOPERATIVE LEARNING (ICL): A PRACTICAL APPLICATION IN THE SUBJECTS MATHEMATICS AND MICROECONOMICS
University teaching is being object of many changes related to the implementation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The Bologna Process has required to the teachers to modify their teaching-learning methods in order to adapt them to its characteristics. In this paper we analyse these changes in our specific teaching experience in the subjects of Microeconomics and Mathematics.
Both of these subjects are part of basic formation in the first degrees and are closely related. Nevertheless, we perceive that students see them as unrelated subjects. This led us to think to do some innovative teaching activity to make students understand the importance of the Mathematics as an instrument in the study of the subject Microeconomics.
Economics is, in general, an "useful" science that has an instrumental character in order to generate knowledge that will improve the welfare of people and will constitute a guide for the actions of individuals and societies. More specifically, Microeconomics uses formal models to explain the behavior of producers and consumers. The analytical part of the microeconomic study is based on logical reasoning, so the mathematical language that brings clarity and rigor, is used both in the procedures and the results.
Taking these aspects into account, we have developed an INTERDISCIPLINARY experience teaching innovation which fosters, through an active methodological strategy, the development and learning by students. In this sense, we use both the technical content related to curriculum subjects Microeconomics and Mathematics as the cross competencies "analysis and synthesis", "planning and organizational", "ability to work in teams", "communication written in native language" and "ability to solve problems". To do this, we proposed a learning activity supported on two teaching innovations: the use of classroom techniques called Cooperative Learning (CL) (Aronson, 1978), and the evaluation of activities and skills through rubrics (Reddy and Andrade, 2010). We have called this experience as: Interdisciplinary Cooperative Learning (ICL).
Class work was carefully prepared in order to link the contents analysed in the subject Microeconomics with the specific mathematics instruments needed for the classes. Students were divided into some groups (called "base groups") of four to six members trying to maximize the heterogeneity. Then, class work was divided by the number of members and every student received a part of it ( called "expertise groups"). Problems were solved and debated in the "expertise groups" during a fixed time. Finally, every student returned to their original group (“base group”) and showed to the remainder what he or she had learned. The evaluation of activities and skills was made through rubrics that have advantages for both professor and student. For teachers facilitates the assessment of generic skills, and for students, allows to see clearly the dimensions assessed at each posed activity and, thus, increases their academic performance.
In general, the students valued positively the experience and they said that is a good methodology to improve their learning process in both of the subjects and will improve the linked between the subjects Microeconomics and Mathematics.