Developing a pedagogy of interactional expertise for sustainability education

Andrew Berardy, Thomas Seager, Evan Selinger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The concept of interactional expertise (IE) describes the type of knowledge needed to communicate effectively with experts from technical disciplines, even without actually practicing in the discipline. Although hard to acquire, IE can be obtained without hands-on experience. Interactional experts include a variety of critics and journalists, as well as peer-review panelists, all of whom can provide criticism, play devil's advocate, tell insider jokes, assess quality and make context-specific judgments. IE is essential for managers of large scientific organizations, as they are required to interact as experts in a wide range of disciplines in which they may have little or no practical experience. IE is also required of scholars working in multidisciplinary research teams, such as in sustainability. The only reliable way to acquire IE in science is through intensive linguistic socialization with disciplinary experts. Given the emergence of novel, integrative graduate education programs in sustainability, universities should consider how education can accelerate the acquisition of IE for the purpose of conducting collaborative sustainability research. We hypothesize that pedagogical strategies adapted from foreign language teaching can prime students for rapid acquisition of interactional expertise. To test our hypothesis, we designed a pilot course for graduate sustainability students around the central idea that acquiring IE is like acquiring a foreign language. We tested the effectiveness of this approach with novel assessment methods through which we were able to gauge the effectiveness of the course and ensure that students learned fundamental thermodynamics concepts. Preliminary results show that the course improves student communication, presents an alternative to traditional thermodynamic instruction and effectively teaches fundamental concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2011 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, ISSST 2011
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 29 2011
Event2011 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, ISSST 2011 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: May 16 2011May 18 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 2011 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, ISSST 2011

Other

Other2011 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, ISSST 2011
CountryUnited States
CityChicago, IL
Period5/16/115/18/11

Keywords

  • Collaborative Research
  • Concept Inventory
  • Interactional Expertise
  • Sustainability Education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Control and Systems Engineering

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  • Cite this

    Berardy, A., Seager, T., & Selinger, E. (2011). Developing a pedagogy of interactional expertise for sustainability education. In Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, ISSST 2011 [5936891] (Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, ISSST 2011). https://doi.org/10.1109/ISSST.2011.5936891