Engineers reading disciplinary texts: Skimming for "shiny objects" and tapping into knowledge and experience
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The purpose of this collective case study was to fill the gap in current research regarding the disciplinary literacies engineers enact within their fields of production. More specifically, this study looked at patterns of fundamental literacies (Norris & Phillips, 2003) employed by engineers as they approached and read disciplinary texts encountered within the contexts of their daily, situated practices. Using a series of interviews and verbal protocols with four practicing engineers, this study examined the stances (Freebody & Luke, 1990; Luke & Freebody, 1999) with which the engineers approached engineering texts encountered in daily practice. This study also explored how the engineers interpreted, analyzed and critiqued the engineering texts they read, and what skills and strategies (Afflerbach, Pearson & Paris, 2008) the engineers employed as they read engineering texts. Results suggested that engineers were goal-directed text users, who daily read texts across a variety of disciplines and levels of abstraction (Roth, 2013). To successfully read texts, engineers relied on a complex collection of reading practices that went well beyond information seeking and included evaluations, interpretations, and comparisons and connections to concrete and ideational texts. Contributions to the current body of literature and implications for K-12 education, teacher education programs and engineering programs within higher education are discussed.