June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society and Engineering Ethics
22.1610.1 - 22.1610.14
Boundary Negotiating Artifacts as A Framework for Investigating Interdisciplinary Engineering TeamsTeamwork, and interdisciplinary teamwork in particular, are increasingly in demand byemployers. Engineering educators have therefore taken an interest in employing and studyingteamwork in their curriculum. Yet much of their scholarship has focused on documenting studentand faculty experiences of teamwork and challenges to interdisciplinarity only. Examinations ofthe actual practices and artifacts, both conceptual and material, that students create and use tomanage interdisciplinary team collaborations are an underexplored research area. However, theyhold much potential for illuminating how teamwork is undertaken, thereby pointing to strategiesfor successful collaborations.Drawing on prior work in Science and Technology Studies (STS), and based upon a one-monthethnographic study of an interdisciplinary graduate research team, we found that the team usedBoundary Negotiating Artifacts (BNAs) to navigate their work. The team consisted ofengineering, psychology, and media arts graduate students conducting their dissertation researchas part of an IGERT-funded project focused on mixed media rehabilitation. The project ischaracterized as complex and non-routine (after Strauss, 1988). Our observations and interviewsrevealed a variety of artifacts employed during teamwork navigations and negotiations. In thispaper, we discuss the significance of Boundary Negotiating Artifacts and propose the concept asa useful framework for investigating interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate engineeringeducation. In contrast to the more familiar concept of boundary objects, which refer to objectsthat travel between different social worlds, BNAs, are found to be more applicable andrevelatory for interdisciplinary collaborations and cooperation such as we observed. This newframework has the potential to shed light on aspects of interdisciplinary collaboration andcooperation that have previously been underexplored within engineering education.We begin with a three-part literature review on interdisciplinary engineering education research,complex and non-routine projects, and boundary negotiating artifacts – distinguishing them fromboundary objects. We then describe our study and methods of data analysis. The Findings andDiscussion section discusses several types of boundary negotiating artifacts. These include: self-explanation artifacts; inclusion artifacts; compilation artifacts; structuring artifacts; and borrowedartifacts. Each type is described and examples from our study are discussed. An explanation ofthe significance of each type of artifact for engineering education researchers follows.The conclusion explores implications of our findings for engineering courses and research. More specifically, how can faculty more intentionally use boundary negotiating artifacts in the context of interdisciplinary team projects to facilitate successful teams? And, how can students themselves learn to apply their understanding of BNAs in their design projects as engineers working with diverse clients and users? Additionally, the conclusion proposes suchstudies as sites for mutually beneficial research collaborations between engineering educatorsand Science and Technology Studies scholars.
Beddoes, K., & Borrego, M. J., & Jesiek, B. K. (2011, June), Using Boundary Negotiating Artifacts to Investigate Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Teams Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18805
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