‘Reservoirs’ and ‘Repertoires’: Epistemological and Discursive Complexities in Multidisciplinary Engineering Practice


  • Karin Elizabeth Wolff University of South Africa




Knowledge structures, complex praxis,


At the heart of the redesign of Higher Education qualifications in South Africa lies the issue of increasing evidence of student difficulties in integrating different forms of knowledge. This article proposes that in order to design curricula and pedagogy which better prepare our graduates for legitimate participation in the world of work, we need to understand what that participation might look like. Using a Bernsteinian (Bernstein 1996, 2000) conceptual framework, a research study was conducted which entailed mapping the knowledge integration practices of final year multidisciplinary engineering diploma students in a situated learning environment. The intention of the research was to illuminate the nature of and relationship between the different forms of knowledge evident in actual practice. The concurrent analysis of discursive practices representing complex knowledge integration reveals that in addition to forms of meaning-making associated with traditional engineering disciplines, successful practice is dependent on the ability to draw on a range of oral and written individual ‘repertoires’, as well as those of a collective ‘reservoir’ that stretches beyond the academy: the invisible community of users on the Internet. The complex praxis and concomitant discourses described in this article suggest we need to see integration of knowledge as more than that of language and content, or concept and context, rather as a system of ‘collaboration’ at multiple levels.

Author Biography

Karin Elizabeth Wolff, University of South Africa

Facilitation of Learning and Tuition, Western Cape, Manager




How to Cite

Wolff, K. E. (2013). ‘Reservoirs’ and ‘Repertoires’: Epistemological and Discursive Complexities in Multidisciplinary Engineering Practice. Journal of Academic Writing, 3(1), 84–94. https://doi.org/10.18552/joaw.v3i1.94