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Using Discourse Analysis to Study a Cross-Disciplinary Learning Community: Insights from an IGERT Training Program


A major challenge for fostering integrative cross-disciplinary collaborations at the graduate level arises from the divergent exposure and training of students from uni-disciplinary graduate programs. In this report, we present the design and preliminary analy- sis of an experimental forum to facilitate cross-disciplinary dis- course within a NSF-sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT) at Rutgers. This forum brings together IGERT Graduate Training Fellows and faculty from four diverse graduate programs in the engineering area and four related programs in life sciences and physical sciences for structured seminars and interchanges. Our report offers methodological and analytical tools grounded within a conceptual framework for promoting discourse that integrates content across diverse disciplines as well as across levels of inquiry. Both the theoretical framework and the research tools may be valuable to others seeking to develop integrative training environments for coalescing learning communities between engineers and their collaborators.