Characterizing discourse among undergraduate researchers in an inquiry-based community of practice

Lori Donath, Roxanne Spray, Nancy S. Thompson, Elisabeth M. Alford, Nadia Craig, Michael A. Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Engineering education increasingly incorporates pedagogies that promote guided, inquiry-based, active learning within authentic "communities of practice". Such pedagogies apply observations made about workplace interaction: that knowledge is distributed across social and physical networks. However, the process through which multiple dimensions of learning occur within a network of distributed cognition-where every person contributes to the learning of every other person-calls for further investigation. The present study, set in an active learning environment, identifies seven speech events that characterize linguistic processes of distributed cognition among undergraduate researchers in the Research Communications Studio (RCS) at the University of South Carolina. Close analysis of a small group session in the RCS revealed that participants enact critique, elicitation of critique, internalization, (direct and indirect) instruction, contextualization, explanation, and collaborative negotiation of knowledge throughout their interactions. Awareness of these speech events, which emerged from the analysis, may better equip engineering educators to optimize interactions in other active group learning environments and to facilitate such activities in more traditional pedagogical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-417
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Active learning
  • Communities of practice
  • Discourse
  • Distributed cognition
  • Interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterizing discourse among undergraduate researchers in an inquiry-based community of practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this