Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice

 

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dc.contributor.advisor Shay, Suellen en_ZA
dc.contributor.advisor Maton, Karl en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Wolff, Karin Elizabeth en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2016-02-09T12:19:11Z
dc.date.available 2016-02-09T12:19:11Z
dc.date.issued 2015 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Wolff, K. 2015. Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/16937
dc.description Includes bibliographical references en_ZA
dc.description.abstract The impetus for this research is the well-documented current inability of Higher Education to facilitate the level of problem solving required in 21st century engineering practice. The research contends that there is insufficient understanding of the nature of and relationship between the significantly different forms of disciplinary knowledge underpinning engineering practice. Situated in the Sociology of Education, and drawing on the social realist concepts of knowledge structures (Bernstein, 2000) and epistemic relations (Maton, 2014), the research maps the topology of engineering problem-solving practice in order to illuminate how novice problem solvers engage in epistemic code shifting in different industrial contexts. The aim in mapping problem-solving practices from an epistemological perspective is to make an empirical contribution to rethinking the theory/practice relationship in multidisciplinary engineering curricula and pedagogy, particularly at the level of technician. A novel and pragmatic problem-solving model - integrated from a range of disciplines - forms the organising framework for a methodologically pluralist case-study approach. The research design draws on a metaphor from the empirical site (modular automation systems) and sees the analysis of twelve matched cases in three categories. Case-study data consist of questionnaire texts, re-enactment interviews, expert verification interviews, and industry literature. The problem-solving model components (problem solver, problem environment, problem structure and problem-solving process) were analysed using, primarily, the Legitimation Code Theory concept of epistemic relations. This is a Cartesian plane-based instrument describing the nature of and relations between a phenomenon (what) and ways of approaching the phenomenon (how). Data analyses are presented as graphical relational maps of different practitioner knowledge practices in different contexts across three problem solving stages: approach, analysis and synthesis. Key findings demonstrate a symbiotic, structuring relationship between the 'what' and the 'how' of the problem in relation to the problem-solving components. Successful problem solving relies on the recognition of these relationships and the realisation of appropriate practice code conventions, as held to be legitimate both epistemologically and contextually. Successful practitioners engage in explicit code-shifting, generally drawing on a priori physics and mathematics-based knowledge, while acquiring a posteriori context-specific logic-based knowledge. High-achieving practitioners across these disciplinary domains demonstrate iterative code-shifting practices and discursive sensitivity. Recommendations for engineering education include the valuing of disciplinary differences and the acknowledgement of contextual complexity. It is suggested that the nature of engineering mathematics as currently taught and the role of mathematical thinking in enabling successful engineering problem-solving practice be investigated. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Education en_ZA
dc.title Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice en_ZA
dc.type Doctoral Thesis
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Humanities en_ZA
dc.publisher.department School of Education en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral
dc.type.qualificationname PhD en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Wolff, K. E. (2015). <i>Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice</i>. (Thesis). University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,School of Education. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11427/16937 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Wolff, Karin Elizabeth. <i>"Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice."</i> Thesis., University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,School of Education, 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/11427/16937 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Wolff KE. Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice. [Thesis]. University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Humanities ,School of Education, 2015 [cited yyyy month dd]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/11427/16937 en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Thesis / Dissertation AU - Wolff, Karin Elizabeth AB - The impetus for this research is the well-documented current inability of Higher Education to facilitate the level of problem solving required in 21st century engineering practice. The research contends that there is insufficient understanding of the nature of and relationship between the significantly different forms of disciplinary knowledge underpinning engineering practice. Situated in the Sociology of Education, and drawing on the social realist concepts of knowledge structures (Bernstein, 2000) and epistemic relations (Maton, 2014), the research maps the topology of engineering problem-solving practice in order to illuminate how novice problem solvers engage in epistemic code shifting in different industrial contexts. The aim in mapping problem-solving practices from an epistemological perspective is to make an empirical contribution to rethinking the theory/practice relationship in multidisciplinary engineering curricula and pedagogy, particularly at the level of technician. A novel and pragmatic problem-solving model - integrated from a range of disciplines - forms the organising framework for a methodologically pluralist case-study approach. The research design draws on a metaphor from the empirical site (modular automation systems) and sees the analysis of twelve matched cases in three categories. Case-study data consist of questionnaire texts, re-enactment interviews, expert verification interviews, and industry literature. The problem-solving model components (problem solver, problem environment, problem structure and problem-solving process) were analysed using, primarily, the Legitimation Code Theory concept of epistemic relations. This is a Cartesian plane-based instrument describing the nature of and relations between a phenomenon (what) and ways of approaching the phenomenon (how). Data analyses are presented as graphical relational maps of different practitioner knowledge practices in different contexts across three problem solving stages: approach, analysis and synthesis. Key findings demonstrate a symbiotic, structuring relationship between the 'what' and the 'how' of the problem in relation to the problem-solving components. Successful problem solving relies on the recognition of these relationships and the realisation of appropriate practice code conventions, as held to be legitimate both epistemologically and contextually. Successful practitioners engage in explicit code-shifting, generally drawing on a priori physics and mathematics-based knowledge, while acquiring a posteriori context-specific logic-based knowledge. High-achieving practitioners across these disciplinary domains demonstrate iterative code-shifting practices and discursive sensitivity. Recommendations for engineering education include the valuing of disciplinary differences and the acknowledgement of contextual complexity. It is suggested that the nature of engineering mathematics as currently taught and the role of mathematical thinking in enabling successful engineering problem-solving practice be investigated. DA - 2015 DB - OpenUCT DP - University of Cape Town LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 2015 T1 - Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice TI - Negotiating disciplinary boundaries in engineering problem-solving practice UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/16937 ER - en_ZA


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