Research suggesting that drawing connections between different subjects and areas of the curriculum is an effective approach which impacts on pupils’ learning is part of a wider body of research work into the principles of effective teaching. An overall effect size for this approach is not currently available.
For example, Ellis et al. (1996) conducted a research review to determine the principles of effective teaching. Ten principles were developed from the evidence base, of which one was teaching that highlights the similarities between topics and curriculum subjects. Askew et al. (1997) found that highly effective teachers of numeracy were those who, among other things, made connections between different areas of maths and different ideas in the same area of maths. Hall and Harding (2003) found that effective literacy teachers balanced direct teaching of basic literacy skills with wider, more contextually-grounded literacy activities, often linked with other curriculum areas.
The full references are:
Askew, M., Brown, M., Rhodes, V., Wiliam, D. and Johnson, D. (1997). “Effective teachers of numeracy”. Final report. London; King’s College London.
Ellis, E.S., Worthington., L. A. and Larkin, MJ. (1996) “Research synthesis on effective teaching principles and the design of quality tools”. Worthington National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators.
Hall, K. and Harding, A. (2003) A systematic review of effective literacy teaching in the 4 to 14 age range of mainstream schooling. In: “Research Evidence in Education Library”. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education.