alexa Redisciplining generic attributes: the disciplinary context in focus.
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Arts and Social Sciences Journal

Author(s): Jones A

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This article discusses the findings of a recent study which demonstrates that generic attributes are highly context‐dependent, and are shaped by the disciplinary epistemology in which they are conceptualised and taught. Generic attributes have, for a long time, been viewed as super‐disciplinary, and hence as separated from and overlayed onto disciplinary content. There has been considerable interest in generic skills or attributes over more than a decade, and there has also been interest in disciplinary culture, and yet there has been little research which has examined the importance of disciplinary epistemology in shaping generic skills and attributes. This study brings together these two strands of research. The study examined the teaching of generic attributes in five disciplines – physics, history, economics, medicine and law – in two Australian universities. The study is based on in‐depth, semi‐structured interviews with academic staff. The findings demonstrate that skills such as critical thinking, analysis, problem solving and communication are conceptualised and taught in quite different ways in each of the disciplines. This article suggests that a de‐disciplined approach to generic skills has led to problems in the areas of educational policy and practice. Instead it proposes a re‐disciplined theorising of generic skills and attributes, which frames them as part of the social practice of the disciplines, and so understood as in and of the disciplinary culture. This new conceptualisation of generic skills and attributes acknowledges the integration of attributes with disciplinary epistemology.

This article was published in Studies in Higher Education and referenced in Arts and Social Sciences Journal

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