donna rooney  Donna Rooney BAd Ed (Hons + Medal), EdD, is a lecturer and early career researcher at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). With adult learning as her central interest, her research over the past five years has focused on learning in and for work, and learning in communities. More recently her focus has shifted to include professional learning. She has been published in all of these areas. Conceptually, she draws from a wide range of theoretical resources: including practice theory, narrative, spatial, queer and postmodern theorisations. Her research is almost always qualitative and ethnographic in nature.



KEITH WILLEY BE (Hons + Medal), PhD, an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Teaching Fellow is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering and IT at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Keith's worked for 20 years in the Broadcasting and Communications industry before becoming an academic. His research interests include the learning and assessment associated with working in groups, the use of self and peer assessment to develop judgement, collaborative peer learning, the nature of informal learning in professional practice, academic standards and the impact of identity, self-efficacy and agency on student and academic engagement with learning opportunities. Keith has received recognition for his contribution to engineering educational research from his peers being the recipient of an Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Award, and both the Australasian Association of Engineering Education (AaeE) Teaching Excellence and Research Design Awards.


ANNE GARDNER, BE(Civil)(Hons), MEngStud(Structural), is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Anne practiced at both a government instrumentality and a private consulting firm before joining academia. Her research is in engineering education where she works with Dr. Willey in improving understanding of the learning associated with and assessment of collaborative learning, workplace learning by professional engineers, and improving the peer review process for engineering education publications. Anne also contributes to the development of the software tool SPARKPLUS. Anne has received recognition for her work in educational research and development including an Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Award, and Australasian Association of Engineering Education (AaeE) Teaching Excellence Award and Research Design Award. Anne is currently a UTS Learning 2014 Fellow, a role requiring leadership in demonstrating and disseminating innovative teaching and learning practices throughout the university.


DAVID BOUD is Professor of Adult Education, elected Fellow of the Society for Research into Higher Education, Senior Fellow of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (National Teaching Fellow) and former President of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. He has been principal investigator on ARC projects focused on professional practice and learning, which link to the subject of this proposal, and is currently lead investigator on two OLT-funded projects. He was lead author on a book arising from a joint-European project on collective reflection in workplaces—Productive Reflection at Work (Routledge). He has written extensively on teaching and learning in professional education and workplace learning. He has 77 papers in international refereed journals and 99 chapters in scholarly books. He edits Studies in Continuing Education (A rated).


ANN REICH PHD, is a senior lecturer in adult and workplace learning and Coordinator of the WLLC Research Program in FASS. Her research interests are in workplace and professional learning and practice, and public sector reform. She has been published in these areas, most recently co-editing a book, Practice, learning and change: Practice-theory perspectives on professional learning. She has recently been invited to deliver a keynote at an international conference on professional learning, and become an Associate of an international network of researchers on professional learning (ProPel) based at the University of Stirling, Scotland.


TERRY FITZGERALD BE (Hons Civil Eng.) ,EngSc (Public Health Eng.), MEd (Adult Ed.) , EdD .Before changing my career path to teaching and educational research, I was employed as a water engineer by Sydney Water and by Binnie & Partners, London. Particularly interesting engineering projects I worked on were the long-term water and sewerage reticulation of north-west Sydney and the design of a water treatment plant for Belfast. My doctorate in Education at UTS involved research into the education of professional practitioners. My thesis earned a position on the UTS Chancellor's List for 2007. Since then I have been a Senior Research Assistant at the UTS Centre for Research in Learning and Change.



What first got you interested in engineering practice?

 Keith Willey: I wanted to better understand the transition from graduate student to professional engineer, and in particular how the engineering and generic skills required for professional practice are developed.


 Anne Gardner: I have retained an interest in practice even though I have now spent more years at university. UTS' Engineering program is interwoven with internships so is influenced by this link with practice, and we are preparing our students to be practitioners so engineering practice is important to me as an engineering academic.


  Donna Rooney: I had been researching learning at work in various manifestations for quite some time, when the opportunity arose to specifically explore the professional learning of experienced engineers.



Why did you begin researching the topic of your chapter? Was it chance/grand plan/ colleague's recommendation ...?

 Keith Willey: Initially I started this research as I wanted to better prepare our students for professional practice. Before I could do this I had to understand how professionals learn and what skills are required to participate in this learning.


 Anne Gardner: The research project came into existence because our colleagues in FASS were looking for a field to use practice theory on and we (Keith & I) were looking for a project to work on with people from FASS to enhance our skills in qualitative, interpretive types of research.


 Donna Rooney: It was part of a UTS funded partnership grant. I believe the idea for a joint project emerged initially through negotiations between David Boud and Keith Wiley.



What challenges did you encounter when working on this chapter?

 Keith Willey: Although an experienced engineering educational researcher working with partners from the faculty of education (social science) meant we had to through conversation, construct a language that we both understood. On many occasions we would use a term that was interpreted differently by our social science colleagues and vice versa. Working with colleagues from a different faculty has enabled us to develop and strengthen our skills in qualitative research. I believe it was beneficial to both parties, and engineering was able to bring their project management and outcome focused skills to the project.


 Anne Gardner: There were different types of challenges encountered in undertaking this research. Some related to the logistics of the research itself such as finding a company to partner us in the project, negotiating with the company for access to their engineers and what form that access would take - which impacted on the research methods we could use. There were challenges in working with an emerging theory with some fluid (?) implementation issues. There were also challenges working with people from a different research culture. There were discussions around basic questions like who should get their name on a conference paper (or book chapter) as well as different final aims for the research. I think our FASS colleagues were satisfied in just working through the theory where the engineers, in engineering fashion, were interested in being able to apply the research findings in the area of engineering education.


 Donna Rooney: My engineering colleagues and I have joked on more than a few occasions about how 'engineers solve problems' whereas my Arts and Social Science colleagues and I 'pose problems'. Although challenging at times, my role in this cross-disciplinary team has been helpful in that I have had to justify qualitative methodologies in response to my engineering colleagues' questions. Like Keith says (above), we had to work at understanding each other – but it was worth it!



What aspect gives you the most satisfaction now?

 Keith Willey: I actually gained a better understanding of how professionals work and have been able to use the results of this research in my undergraduate teaching in particular, helping students to identify, develop and value the opportunities provided in their undergraduate degree to develop the skills required for professional practice.


 Anne Gardner: What gives me satisfaction now is being able to draw on these research experiences in discussions with engineering students and in redesigning their learning activities.


 Donna Rooney: I hesitate to say that I'm completely 'satisfied' with our understandings of professional learning of experienced engineers (after all, we social scientists have made an art of 'posing questions'). There's a lot more work to do still, and I cant promise I'll ever be completely satisfied. However I am satisfied with how our research team relationships' were formed and strengthened over the duration of the project.



What advice would you give to someone beginning to get interested in engineering practice(s) research?

 Keith Willey: Team up with some social scientists the diversity and range of expertise will make the project more worthwhile interesting and beneficial.


 Anne Gardner: I think a potential impediment is negotiating access to experienced engineers for observations and interviews, so it is important to establish and maintain a good relationship with any organisation you wish to use as a research site. Although there were frustrations in working with colleagues from another discipline, the benefits of diversity of perspectives and skills that arises from having a multidisciplinary research team is worth the pain


 Donna Rooney: First, I concur with Keith and Anne – team up with researchers from different areas to you. Second, respect differences. Third, a sense of humor helps!

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