Pedagogical proposal for interdisciplinary projects to increase cognitive development Mendive. Journal on Education, october-november 2021; 19(4): 1203-1215
Translated from the original in Spanish


Pedagogical proposal for interdisciplinary projects to increase cognitive development


Propuesta pedagógica de proyectos interdisciplinarios para incrementar el desarrollo cognitivo


Proposta pedagógica de projetos interdisciplinares para aumentar o desenvolvimento cognitivo


Hernán Santiago Crespo Ávila1
Janneth Verónica Chumaña Suquillo2

1 University of Paciífic. Ecuador.
2 Central University ofl Ecuador.


Received: May 05th, 2021.
Approved: November 03rd, 2021.



The development of projects based on cooperative work that promotes cognitive and emotional development and the achievement of the objectives of the teaching-learning process is increasingly a pedagogical strategy extended at different educational levels. The development of the curricula of basic education in Ecuador still does not promote the above, so the generation of proposals in this regard is novel and useful. The objective of this research was to design a pedagogical proposal for the development of interdisciplinary projects that favor the cognitive development of third-year students of basic education of the Private Educational Unit "Borja", Cuenca, Ecuador. As part of the proposal, the methodological principles to be considered, the objective, methodological scheme, organization of the interdisciplinary project and the evaluation were established. A project proposal called "Playing I learn" was designed in order to improve academic results, student integration in cooperative work and promote interdisciplinary work between the subjects of English and Cultural and Artistic Education, whose implementation in the institution will allow progress in the change in the pedagogical models that have characterized the Ecuadorian educational system and that do not tend to interdisciplinary, cooperative and meaningful learning work.

Keywords: pedagogical proposal; projects; interdisciplinary; cognitive development; basic education; Ecuador.


El desarrollo de proyectos con base en el trabajo cooperativo que promuevan el desarrollo cognitivo, emocional y el logro de los objetivos del Proceso de Enseñanza-Aprendizaje es cada vez más una estrategia pedagógica extendida en los distintos niveles educativos. El desarrollo de los currículos de la educación básica en Ecuador aún no promueve lo anterior, por lo que la generación de propuestas en este sentido resulta novedoso y útil. El objetivo de la presente investigación fue diseñar una propuesta pedagógica para ejecutar proyectos interdisciplinarios que favorezcan el desarrollo cognitivo de los estudiantes de tercero de educación básica de la Unidad Educativa Particular "Borja", Cuenca, Ecuador. Como parte de la propuesta se establecieron los principios metodológicos a considerar, el objetivo, esquema metodológico, organización del proyecto interdisciplinario y la evaluación. Se diseñó una propuesta de proyecto denominado "Jugando aprendo", con la finalidad de mejorar los resultados académicos, la integración estudiantil en trabajos cooperativos y fomentar el trabajo interdisciplinar entre las asignaturas Inglés y Educación Cultural y Artística, cuya implementación en la institución permitirá avanzar en el cambio de los modelos pedagógicos que han caracterizado al sistema educativo ecuatoriano y que no propenden al trabajo interdisciplinario, cooperativo y de aprendizaje significativo.

Palabras clave: propuesta pedagógica; proyectos; interdisciplinariedad; desarrollo cognitivo; educación básica; Ecuador.


O desenvolvimento de projetos baseados no trabalho cooperativo que promovam o desenvolvimento cognitivo e emocional e a concretização dos objetivos do Processo de Ensino-Aprendizagem é cada vez mais uma estratégia pedagógica alargada aos diferentes níveis de ensino. O desenvolvimento dos currículos da educação básica no Equador ainda não promove o acima exposto, de modo que a geração de propostas a esse respeito é nova e útil. O objetivo desta pesquisa foi traçar uma proposta pedagógica para a execução de projetos interdisciplinares que favoreçam o desenvolvimento cognitivo de alunos do terceiro ano do ensino fundamental da Unidade de Ensino Particular "Borja", Cuenca, Equador. Como parte da proposta, foram estabelecidos os princípios metodológicos a serem considerados, o objetivo, o esquema metodológico, a organização do projeto interdisciplinar e a avaliação. Foi elaborada uma proposta de projeto denominada "Brincando eu aprendo", com o objetivo de melhorar os resultados acadêmicos, a integração dos alunos no trabalho cooperativo e promover o trabalho interdisciplinar entre as disciplinas Inglês e Educação Artística e Cultural, cuja implantação na instituição permitirá avançar na mudança no os modelos pedagógicos que têm caracterizado o sistema educacional equatoriano e que não tendem a um trabalho de aprendizagem interdisciplinar, cooperativo e significativo.

Palavras-chave: proposta pedagógica; Projetos; interdisciplinaridade; desenvolvimento cognitivo; Educação básica; Equador.



Education is consigned in the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, as a right of the people, as well as in the Organic Law of Intercultural Education, which also establishes integrality as one of the principles of educational activity. .

However, one of the most complex problems faced by the basic education system in Ecuador is not to contain the development of projects within the curriculum, but is still focused on subjects with a vision of individual work, which does not tend towards achievement of greater capacities of students to reflect and solve problems taking advantage of the perspectives of the integrated work of subjects. This is reflected in the work of Aguilar (2019), in which the "rigid curriculum" is described as one of the most serious evils of Basic General Education, thus decontextualizing it and causing a low quality in learning. This author expresses the need that, due to the characteristics of the educational system, "… a new integrative proposal for curricular redesign with innovative methodologies be generated" (p. 25).

In this context, the promotion of interdisciplinary is recognized as an opportunity, considering that it allows the integration of two or more subjects from an academic point of view, as a way of consolidating knowledge and developing skills. According to Lenoir (2013), interdisciplinary can be handled in four areas: scientific, school, professional and practical; corresponding to the approach of this research to approach it from the school point of view, whose purpose is to acquire new knowledge with a scientific basis and based on the development of cooperative activities that allow solving problems of practice.

Cooperative work is precisely one of the principles of interdisciplinary, which is based on the operationalization of activities as cooperative contributions that will make it possible to achieve the proposed objectives, and which breaks the traditional schemes of individual work, by favoring the relationship with colleagues, reinforcing individual responsibility and promote the integral formation of children. To the above, other benefits are added such as greater student motivation, time optimization and greater cognitive development. Especially this last factor will be the one that will be promoted in the proposal of this research, considering that there is the possibility of achieving benefits, both in skills and knowledge of the students through correctly implemented projects, which tend to systematize the knowledge acquired. The theoretical framework that supports the development of this research is given in the cognitive theories of education that, according to Cortez & Tunal (2018), are based on the principles of the development of knowledge through experiences, the training of autonomous and cognitive students, and the development of learning capacities from experiences.

The development of projects has a great relevance at a pedagogical level, as it can contribute to the improvement of methodologies in class and a greater achievement of the objectives of the Teaching-Learning Process. Its foundations and first practice were given at the Experimental School of the University of Chicago through William Kilpatrick. Since then, the use of projects in education has been promoted at all levels, generally promoting cooperative learning, conceptualized by "the didactic use of small groups in which students work together to maximize their own learning and that of each other." (Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, 1999, p. 5).

The breakdown of traditional schemes, specifically in basic education in Ecuador, will allow the fusion of subjects in order to develop an interdisciplinary project that benefits the cognitive and emotional development of students; which is still complex if one considers the fragmentation of the subjects, the complexity of the union of themes under principles of rigor, coherence and relevance, among others, that facilitate a subsequent implementation. This would be a novel proposal considering the conditions of education in the country, by facilitating the construction of knowledge and acquisition of skills in students from different perspectives and realities.

In the specific case of the "Borja" Private Educational Unit, located in Cuenca, Ecuador, the possibility of carrying out this integration process between the subjects English and Cultural and Artistic Education (ECA) was considered, as a pilot experience in the absence of projects interdisciplinary that favor the cognitive development of students. This institution has begun the implementation of a new system based on teaching for understanding, with emphasis on the transformation of the curriculum, methodologies, and evaluation systems, empowerment of teachers and students, organization of spaces, time and the optimal use of technological resources. The integration of the aforementioned subjects will also allow the implementation of an educational and artistic practice that strengthens the learning of the English language, with a high degree of motivation derived from artistic activities; considering also that, according to the EF English Proficiency Index system, the level of English in Ecuador is very low.

Based on the above, the objective for this research is to design a pedagogical proposal for the development of interdisciplinary projects that favor cognitive development through teaching for understanding, of the third-year students of basic education of the Unit Private Education "Borja", Cuenca, Ecuador.



The present investigation is of an applied type. For its execution, theoretical methods were applied such as: the historical, systemic and modeling method, which allowed structuring the pedagogical proposal based on the findings of the literature review carried out in databases such as Redalyc, Scielo, Scopus, Dialnet and others. ; And the analysis and synthesis of the selected information. From the empirical point of view, the description of the teaching process of the subjects English and ECA was made in the Private Educational Unit "Borja" of Cuenca, Ecuador, based on an interview carried out, individually, with the two teachers of said subjects.

Based on these interviews, and other findings of the theoretical research, the need and importance of the design of a pedagogical proposal was verified, which consists of the following components: methodological principles; objective; methodological scheme; organization of the interdisciplinary project and evaluation, as indicated by the Ministry of Education in Ecuador.



1. Description of the development of the subjects English and ECA in the Private Educational Unit "Borja"

Next, a description of the teaching process of both subjects in the Private Educational Unit "Borja" is presented, which is located in the city of Cuenca, Azuay province in the Republic of Ecuador; whose mission is "We are an Educational Institution of the Society of Jesus (RUEI-FLACSI), which accompanies the integral formation of human beings, to lead the transformation of society with a high commitment to faith, justice and ecological awareness."

As part of the transformation axes that the institution manages towards 2025, there are the improvements in the curriculum, the teaching methodologies and the evaluation system, based on the reformulation of the roles of teachers and students, the organization of the times and spaces, the use of technologies and transversal changes consistent with the institutional philosophical model.

According to the educational levels of the Ecuadorian education system, the "Borja" Unit maintains an academic offer at the initial levels; basic elementary, middle and superior and baccalaureate.

The present work was developed in the third grade of basic (elementary), covering the groups or parallel A, B, C and D, which have 28; 26; 26 and 23 students, respectively, for a total of 103 learners.

For the development of the diagnosis in the research, interviews were carried out with the two teachers who teach the subjects English and ECA in the third grade of basic of the Educational Unit, whose main results were:

In general, the need, relevance and feasibility of developing a pedagogical proposal for the development of the aforementioned interdisciplinary projects - based on the provisions of the Ministry of Education in Ecuador - was observed, which is shown below.

2. Pedagogical proposal of interdisciplinary projects of English and ECA in the Private Educational Unit "Borja"

Methodological principles

As a result of the analysis and synthesis of the bibliographic review carried out in the research, especially the work of Peixoto, Rico & Arufe (2019), the methodological principles to take into consideration in the design of the pedagogical proposal were determined, which are stated next:


The objective of the proposal is to compact two subjects in a single interdisciplinary project, as well as to cover the skills developed by each one of them, which facilitate the cognitive development of students; Specifically, in the English subject, the aim is to improve the development of oral comprehension and production through pronunciation and vocabulary management and, in the case of ECA, to develop some of the proposed skills such as: musicality (rhythm and melody), drawing and understanding of the different games that are part of the national culture. All this in order to contribute to the acquisition of knowledge, promote long-term memory, self-regulation, motivation, and the development of skills to know how to do in the future.

Methodological scheme

The methodological scheme was adapted from Castillo & Cabrerizo (2010), and consists of the following phases:

1. Planning and design of the project, integrating the contents between the subjects according to the curriculum, which includes the analysis of themes by subjects.

2. Execution of the project, in which the proposed methodologies are applied, and the participation of teachers and students is carried out.

3. Evaluation of the results of the knowledge integration process, both of the student's performance and of the project.

Organization of the interdisciplinary project

The title chosen for the development of the interdisciplinary project was "Playing I learn", and its specific purposes are:

The execution period determined for the project is four weeks, and it is based on the analysis of the curriculum of the English and ECA subjects, choosing the topics of greatest interest to the students, which are shown in table 1.

Table 1- Organization of contents and interdisciplinary objectives



Interdisciplinary objectives / Word to work

The body in motion

ECA.2.1.3. Reflect on the results obtained when representing one's own body and presents them orally.

EFL.2.1.3. Ask simple basic questions in class about the world beyond one's own immediate environment in order to increase their understanding of different cultures.

EFL 2.1.7 Collaborate in a friendly manner by sharing classroom materials and personal objects while participating in games and activities in class and on the playground.

Learn about the different traditional end-of-year activities that are part of our culture and foreign cultures through the development of games to motivate the conscience to protect our traditions.





Stories, stories, anecdotes and tales

ECA.2.2.9. Representing tales, myths, legends, stories and stories with puppets or marionettes built in the classroom, coordinating one's own action with that of others and reaching agreements both in the construction process and in the rehearsals and representation.

Stage productions

ECA.2.2.10. Represent, through dramatizations, illustrations or sound sequences, the result of including, in tales or traditional stories of the different nationalities of Ecuador, characters from other tales or stories, as a surprise or distorting element.

EFL.2.2.6. Enjoy extensive listening in English. (Example: listen to stories, watch short movies, experience song lyrics or poetry, etc.)

Encourage reading and research through traditional Christmas stories and the creation of stories to promote literacy practices, motivating and stimulating the imagination.






Rhythmic games

ECA.2.2.2. Practice rhythmic games (children's rounds, traditional games of the different nationalities of Ecuador, hand games, etc.) that allow the development of different motor skills.


ECA.2.2.13. Create and perform, in small groups, rhythmic pieces, using kitchen utensils as musical instruments.

EFL.2.5.3. Use audio, video, and pictures to respond to a variety of literary texts through online or in-class ICT activities.

EFL 2.2.10 Clap, move, chant or sing along with short authentic English language rhymes or songs, approximating English rhythm and intonation once familiar with the text.

Know and identify different Christmas plays by singing traditional works adapted to English to motivate the practice of the language.




To sing

Traditional and popular toys

ECA.2.3.8. Design and build traditional or popular toys (whistles, houses with their furniture and tableware, dolls, cars, kaleidoscopes, stilts, tops, catapults, whirligigs, yo-yos; etc.), using waste or low-cost materials (clay, clay, wood , tin, cattails, wool, straw, tagua, fabrics, etc.).

EFL 2.4.2 Make a simple learning resource, in order to record and practice new words. (Example: a picture dictionary, a word list, set of flashcards, etc.).


EFL.2.2.13. Understand and use basic greetings, leave-taking expressions, and other simple everyday phrases to facilitate interpersonal interaction, to introduce others, and to name things. (Example: Thank-you, Can I help you? This is [name], etc.)


Identify some of the traditional Christmas toys and decorations by constructing a Christmas ornament to encourage learning.



Build up

Images, drawings and collage

ECA.2.3.19. Produce images, drawings, or collages to create hypothetical restaurant menus with menus dominated by one color.


EFL.2.3.7. Read and understand the main ideas in a short simple text on a cross-curricular topic. (Example: art, music, history, etc.)

EFL.2.1.1. Exchange basic introductions and limited personal information in class using simple present tense in order to get to know their peers. (Example: where one lives or goes to school, etc.

Internalize new words through the development of drawings to later create a collage and an interactive story.





The proposal also included the implementation of a verb to work within each class, proposing an integrative interdisciplinary objective that covers the themes of the subjects.

The lesson plan was designed with a structure by sessions / activities, showing an example below: See Chapter


Topic: Verbs






-         Welcome and presentation of the topic: Sing verb

(carol singing Carnations and Roses )

-         Impact activity:

Brain gym exercise

(kinesthetic movements with the given figures)


-         Presentation of the objectives of the class, brainstorming about the meaning of the verb Sing


2 minutes


4 minutes










2 minutes



-         Motivation through the setting of realistic goals, such as the correct pronunciation of a Christmas story the song Carnations and Roses in English

-         Self-regulation: develop a study record

-         Explanation and pronunciation of the verb Sing and its conjugations in the third person.

-         Listen to the audio of the work to be executed

-         Analyze the lyrics of the Christmas carol. The lyrics will be divided into two parts; one will be in Spanish and the other in English.

-         Develop exercises for the pronunciation of the letter of the Christmas carol with rhythmic patterns.

-         Sing the work through a Karaoke video, through the FINALE program and analyze the melody.

-         Oral productions: about 5 students will be asked to sing the work with the pronunciation studied.

2 minutes



2 minutes

3 minutes

3 minutes

10 minutes


10 minutes


5 minutes


7 minutes



-         Sing the play (in a group)

-         Brainstorm the knowledge acquired.

-         Class conclusions

-         Final work

Present a video singing the work studied

3 minutes

5 minutes



2 minutes

Likewise, in each of the activities the content of both subjects and the final product were specified, which for example in this first session were:

  • English content: regarding the English subject, the new vocabulary of the translated work, its correct pronunciation and the respective translation analysis were addressed.
  • ECA content: in relation to the ECA subject within this content, the musical part "singing" is implicit. Work was done on phrasing, tuning, diction, and so on. Interpreting the work a part of the letter in Spanish and another in English.
  • Final product: as part of the final product to present in this first topic, it is the video of the song Carnations and Roses, a Christmas carol that was developed in English and in Spanish as an adaptation of the language, in group work promoting cooperation.

The main products to be developed as part of the project are: video creation; drawings alluding to stories; creation of snowman; Christmas and New Year's games and taking pictures, which in the future can be strengthened through the application of information and communication technologies, which currently allow improving the Teaching-Learning Processes in the context of the methodology of projects, according to Saborío (2019).


In relation to the evaluation of the process, its implementation was planned based on what was proposed by Castillo & Cabrerizo (2010), in three moments, before, during and after, and aimed at evaluating the acquisition of knowledge and skills, and especially, the achievement of the fulfillment of the objective of the project, through presentations, oral lessons and review of products produced.

In the same way, it is necessary to evaluate the impact of the development of the project on students, teachers and parents, which will be done through discussions, interviews, questionnaires and the participation of an external observer.



The development of the pedagogical proposal for the execution of the interdisciplinary project "Playing I learn", described above, constitutes a higher form of planning and execution of the teaching-educational process in English and ECA subjects, with respect to the way in which they had been developed previously.

The proposal contains some pedagogical principles considered very useful in basic education, based on the postulates of Schunk (2012) on motivation and self-regulation, which promote the development of thought and behavior in students, establishing realistic goals that allow self-supervision and development as part of academic practice; which is part of the postulates of the cognitive development model.

Considering these principles, the designed proposal has techniques such as organization charts, concept maps, mental maps and others, as a way to develop oral presentations that guarantee effective feedback as part of the project development.

Likewise, the proposal shows that, in addition to carrying out projects through defined products, the presence of the content of the merged subjects was respected, under principles of relevance and prioritization, which can be evidenced in other similar works such as that of Peixoto, Rico & Arufe (2019).

The development of a lesson plan is another of the success factors of the proposal, since this allows the goals and objectives of instruction to be clearly defined, both in content and in process, it facilitates the integrative development of the content of the subjects, the evaluation of knowledge, the pedagogical development of the class, the optimal use of materials and resources and the effective timing, among other advantages. The organization of the class was carried out respecting the didactic sequence by competences, structured in beginning, development and closing.

The constant examples in the literature, in relation to the integration of the English and Arts subjects, show positive results, as Rodríguez (2018, p. 9) reviews, by becoming a "pedagogical and dynamic strategy that allows to have a real vision from the educational point of view for the integral development of the professional and to privilege the analytical and critical perception of the needs of their environment". According to educational practice, art allows improving student performance in relation to reasoning, critical thinking, among other factors related to cognitive development (Rivas, Jaramillo & Mussó, 2020). Art education in early ages is also recognized as a way for the development of creativity and psychosocial evolution of children (Barba, Guzmán & Aroca, 2019).

For its part, learning foreign languages, specifically English, has a recognized influence on the cognitive development of individuals, influencing their autonomy, enabling their integration with other subjects, through interdisciplinary projects that influence the Teaching-Learning Process., especially at the levels of basic education, where the integral formation of the subjects is a product of both the educational context and the influence of the curriculum.

By way of conclusion, it can be noted that the proposal has been designed under rigorous theoretical and methodological principles, applying the scientific method of modeling, which is why it is a guide for teachers who must carry out the subsequent implementation, which will allow optimizing the Process of Teaching-Learning, from the reinforcement of knowledge in the subjects English and ECA that, in an integrated way, through the realization of the project "Playing I learn", will have a positive impact on the cognitive and emotional levels of the students. Said proposal will constitute a pilot plan for the development of subsequent subject integrations in various grades of basic education.

The generalization of this proposal, based on the characteristics of the educational system and institutionalism in Ecuador, should be carried out from a work of coordination between the educational units and the public bodies that govern this activity in the country. The foregoing will require the gradual and congruent integration of interdisciplinary projects into the curriculum, after an exhaustive analysis of the subjects with greater possibilities of merging, as well as other operational aspects.



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Conflict of interest:

Authors declare not to have any conflicts of interest.


Authors´ Contribution:

The authors have participated in the writing of the work and analysis of the documents.


This work is under a
licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional
Copyright (c) Hernán Santiago Crespo Ávila, Janneth Verónica Chumaña Suquillo