Outside the ‘comfort zone’: impacts of interdisciplinary research collaboration on research, pedagogy, and disciplinary knowledge production

TitleOutside the ‘comfort zone’: impacts of interdisciplinary research collaboration on research, pedagogy, and disciplinary knowledge production
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMcNair, LD, Davitt, M, Batten, GP
JournalEngineering Studies
Volume7
Issue1
Pagination47-79
Date Published2015/01/02
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number1937-8629
AbstractWe present a case study centered on an engineering design initiative in which engineers invite scientists to participate in an interdisciplinary collaboration aimed at designing an unmanned, underwater robot. Our interviews of faculty and student project participants were the central focus of our analysis, while the knowledge products produced by the participants in the form of journal articles played a role in our formulation of an open-ended interview question set. Boundary objects in the form of fish and their bio-robotic replications emerged as having played a central role in facilitating the negotiation of epistemological challenges, which were instantiated as differing experimental practices, theories, and concepts. Our analysis of the interview data pays particular attention to the role of boundary objects and epistemological challenges in shaping research and pedagogical practices and in bringing about disciplinary knowledge gains. We propose that interdisciplinary research processes operate via boundary objects to facilitate epistemic negotiations that are leading to disciplinary transformations. The researchers? reflections indicate that many of their approaches to research and education were fundamentally impacted through this collaboration and that their respective disciplines experienced knowledge gains that may not have been possible within a single-disciplinary framework.
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19378629.2015.1014817
DOI10.1080/19378629.2015.1014817

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