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Using Boundary Negotiating Artifacts to Investigate Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Teams

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Integration of Liberal Education into Engineering

Tagged Divisions

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society and Engineering Ethics

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

22.1610.1 - 22.1610.14

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/18805

Download Count

30

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Paper Authors

biography

Kacey Beddoes Virginia Tech

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Kacey Beddoes is a Ph.D. student in Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Tech. Her current research interests are interdisciplinary studies of gender and engineering education and international engineering education. She serves as Managing Editor of Engineering Studies. She is also co-editor of What is Global Engineering Education For? The Making of International Educators, and Assistant Editor of the Global Engineering series from Morgan & Claypool publishers.

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biography

Maura J. Borrego Virginia Tech

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Maura Borrego is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She is currently serving a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the National Science Foundation. Her research interests focus on interdisciplinary faculty members and graduate students in engineering and science, with engineering education as a specific case. Dr. Borrego holds U.S. NSF CAREER and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) awards for her engineering education research. Dr. Borrego has developed and taught graduate level courses in engineering education research methods and assessment from 2005 - 2010. All of Dr. Borrego’s degrees are in Materials Science and Engineering. Her M.S. and Ph.D. are from Stanford University, and her B.S. is from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Brent K Jesiek Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Brent K. Jesiek is Assistant Professor in Engineering Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech. His research examines the social, historical, global, and epistemological dimensions of engineering and computing, with particular emphasis on topics related to engineering education, computer engineering, and educational technology.

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Abstract

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. https://peer.asee.org/18805

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