Being interdisciplinary: A look into the background and experiences of iSchool faculty members

Paper delivered at a workshop on Global Collaboration of Information Schools, IFLA 2013
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, August 15, 2013

This two-stage study provides an in-depth examination of iSchool’s interdisciplinary approach in education and research via the lens of iSchool faculty members’ background and experiences. At the first stage, a content analysis of faculty online profiles was conducted to examine faculty members’ rank, PhD field, teaching and research descriptions. At the second stage, a survey study was conducted to investigate faculty’s interdisciplinary experiences in teaching and research.

Findings show that iSchool faculty members have diverse backgrounds and are actively engaged in various interdisciplinary activities. Their interdisciplinary research is mostly motivated by the nature of research problems, and they consider the gaps of knowledge/experience/vocabulary/disciplinary norms among team members the most frequently encountered challenge. In addition, various factors that contribute to the success of interdisciplinary teaching and education are identified.

This study deepens the understanding of how faculty members work across disciplines in their teaching and research, and yields insights on how to help them overcome challenges and employ effective strategies to accomplish their interdisciplinary objectives. Both educators and researchers can learn from this study how to successfully fuse different disciplines in the study of “information” and create an interdisciplinary environment that truly fosters collaborative research and education.

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Lili Luo
School of Library and Information Science
San Jose State University
One Washington Square, San Jose
CA, USA, 95192-0029
lili.luo@sjsu.edu