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.


What first got you interested in engineering practice?

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 ...?

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?

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?

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?

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!