Cross-curricular approach involves a conscious effort to apply knowledge, principles, and/or values to more than one academic discipline simultaneously. The disciplines may be related through a central theme, issue, problem, process, topic, or experience (Jacobs, 1989). The organizational structure of cross-curricular approach is called a theme, thematic unit, or unit, which is a framework with goals/outcomes that specify what students are expected to learn as a result of the experiences and lessons that are a part of the unit. Through this framework, students will learn and grasp in each theme the knowledge and skill of each discipline wherein their acquaintance with the central theme will become more ample and profound.
There seem to be two levels of integration that schools go through: The first is integration of the language arts (listening, speaking, reading, writing, thinking) (Fogarty, 1991; Pappas, Kiefer, & Levstik, 1990); the second involves a much broader kind of integration, one in which a theme begins to encompass all curricular areas. During a lesson, the teacher’s management of each link, information and knowledge is encompassed within a central theme. For example, if we take “Bridge” as our central theme, then the teaching materials can be drawn up into several different approaches to describe a bridge: “Bridge-appreciation” is to view the bridge from an artistic and aesthetic perspective; “Bridge-description” requires usage of words and informative knowledge to evoke an accurate image of the bridge in the student’s mind; while “Bridge-survey” needs mathematical and mechanical knowledge to accurately describe the architectural aspects of the whole structure.
Therefore, cross-curricular approach is often seen as a way to address some of the recurring problems in education, such as fragmentation and isolated skill instruction. It is seen as a way to support goals such as transfer of learning, teaching students to think and reason, and providing a curriculum more relevant to students so as to develop their skill and knowledge in the learning of each discipline and its application in life as a whole.