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The Benefits Of Multi Disciplinary Collaboration

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

IE/EM Skills in Real World Concepts

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1262.1 - 10.1262.6



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Paper Authors

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Karen Palmer

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Terri Lynch-Caris

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Laura Sullivan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Benefits of Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration

Terri Lynch-Caris, Karen Palmer, Laura Sullivan Kettering University

Background References exist to show that learning, retention and professional development can be enhanced through collaboration. In the book Women’s Ways of Knowing, the authors assert that a passion for learning is experienced when students witness first-hand the process of problem- solving, rather than merely being “handed” theories. As the authors write,

So long as teachers hide the imperfect processes of their thinking, allowing their students to glimpse only the polished products, students will remain convinced that only Einstein – or a professor – could think up a theory. The problem is especially acute with respect to science. Science is usually taught by males and is regarded as the quintessentially masculine intellectual activity. And science is taught – or, at least, it is heard by students in most introductory courses – as a series of sibylline statements. The professor is not indulging in conjecture; he is telling the truth. (1997, p. 217).

Many engineering programs through capstone design courses address such a method of teaching. And yet, often the professor excludes himself (or herself) from the problem-solving process, serving only as a “consultant” to design teams who can find the right questions to ask. Belenky and her colleagues suggest that female students find little more satisfaction with this experience than they do in the lecture hall. For these women, the process of learning, of creating, and of designing is much more valuable than the product of the design experience. As Belenky writes, these women “believe that people have an obligation to share with others how they know and what they learn when they ‘jump outside of the given.’ ” Carol Edelsky writes of the same desire, noting in her study of women at various professional meetings, that when in collaborative environments, these women experienced “high levels of communicative involvement and satisfaction.” (1981, p. 416)

Female faculty members who share an enthusiasm for collaboration would be described by Belenky as “constructivists.” These academics enjoy learning most when reciprocity and cooperation are prominent. As Belenky writes, “although doubting may still be used to test ideas and may even be described as invigorating or fun, constructivist women are much more likely to replace doubting with believing as the best way of getting the feel of a new idea.” (1997, p. 145)

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Palmer, K., & Lynch-Caris, T., & Sullivan, L. (2005, June), The Benefits Of Multi Disciplinary Collaboration Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14537

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