Disciplinary Context

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Presented as part of the 'Strengthening Learning Contexts' Grand Challenge student presentation at the Joint European Summer School on Technology Enhanced Learning 2010 in Ohrid, Macedonia on June 10.

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Disciplinary Context

  1. 1. Disciplinary Context Becher, T., & Trowler, P. R. (2001). Academic Tribes and Territories (2nd Ed.) Buckingham: Open University Press. 1. Educational Landscapes Mapping the territory of academic knowledge Coalescence of knowledge into academic disciplines / cultures Modes of Knowledge (Gibbons, 2000) Mode 1 Traditional, pure knowledge Academic-driven and discipline-centred. Mode 2 Applied, trans-disciplinary, problem-oriented knowledge Non-academic-driven and entrepreneurial.
  2. 2. 2. Academic Disciplines What constitutes / defines a discipline? • Structural / institutional / organisational / departmental • Historical • Geographical (national / international) Disciplines have recognisable identities and cultural attributes apparent in: • Artefacts • Language / discourse • Traditions, customs, practices, rules etc. Disciplinary Cultures: how academics engage with subject matter, and develop recurrent practices among a group of people in a given context Relationship with Learning Theories NeoVygotskyist and Postmodernist approaches - Socio-Constructivist, Situated practice (e.g. Wenger, Engestrom), cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1979) Acquiring membership of disciplinary community. New members construct rather than adopt ways of being – identity, values, knowledge and practices etc.
  3. 3. 3. Fragmentation and Inter-disciplinarity • Vocational subjects / professions present new disciplines / knowledge domains • Academic Professionalism - specialist interests (Clark, 1993) • Inter-disciplinarity, multi-disciplinarity and cross-disciplinarity Boundaries • Tightly knit / convergent / defended • Loose / divergent / open Boundary crossing - Boundary objects (Star & Griesemer, 1989) Specialisms • Theory-based • Technique / methods-based • Subject matter Fills in disciplinary ‘gaps’ Microscopic level of knowledge
  4. 4. 4. Taxonomy: Cognitive Component Hard < > Soft and Pure < > Applied Hard / Pure General areas of human understanding - Clustered around limited small problems Hard / Applied Focus on product-orientated techniques Soft / Pure Heteregeneous, personal and specific- study the particular rather than general Soft / Applied Directed by non-academic interests - focus on ‘useful topics’ Combination Category Example Hard / Pure Pure Sciences Physics Soft / Pure Humanities History Hard / Applied Technologies Mechanical Engineering Soft / Applied Applied Social Sciences Education, Law etc
  5. 5. 5. Taxonomy: Social Component Urban < > Rural Urban Tightly composed, intense, competitive - teamwork and close-knit communities e.g. Pure Sciences Rural Numerous themes of enquiry - little overlap between areas of focus e.g. Arts and Humanities Convergent < > Divergent Convergent Collective kinship, mutuality of interests and beliefs, fraternity, scholarship, mutual identity and common discourse Divergent Ideologically fragmented, diffused across wide field – clusters of related disciplines.

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