A now-preferred synonym for subject or subject area among educators, content area refers to a defined domain of knowledge and skill in an academic program. The most common content areas in public schools are English (or English language arts), mathematics, science, and social studies (or history and civics). In some cases, traditional content areas may be combined or blended, as with humanities (typically a blend of English and social studies), the fine and performing arts (a blend of visual art, dance, music, and theater), or STEM (an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math).
Content areas are one method that schools use to organize knowledge, teaching, and academic programming. For example, learning standards, standardized tests, academic teams, graduation requirements, and faculty departments are often organized by content area.
In recent decades, some schools have moved away from traditional content areas by (1) creating new blended content areas (such as humanities or STEM); (2) creating new academic programs, such as theme-based academies, that offer more intensive, in-depth education in a certain content area or blended content area; and (3) integrating multiple domains of knowledge and instruction into a single assignment, lesson, or course. For example, teaching strategies such as authentic learning or project-based learning typically bring together multiple domains of academic knowledge, skill, and study that would have historically been taught in separate content-area courses.
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