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Characterizing the use of mathematical knowledge in boundary crossing situations at work

Kent, Phillip; Noss, Richard; Guile, David; Hoyles, Celia; Bakker, Arthur; (2007) Characterizing the use of mathematical knowledge in boundary crossing situations at work. Mind, Culture and Activity , 14 (1-2) pp. 64-82. Green open access

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Abstract

The first aim of this paper is to present a characterisation of techno-mathematical literacies needed for effective practice in modern, technology-rich workplaces that are both highly automated and increasingly focused on flexible response to customer needs. The second aim is to introduce an epistemological dimension to activity theory, specifically to the notions of boundary object and boundary crossing. In this paper we draw on ethnographic research in a pensions company and focus on data derived from detailed analysis of the diverse perspectives that exist with respect to one symbolic artefact, the annual pension statement. This statement is designed to facilitate boundary crossing between company and customers. Our study showed that the statement routinely failed in this communicative role, largely due to the invisible factors of the mathematical-financial models underlying the statement that are not made visible to customers, or to the customer enquiry team whose task is to communicate with customers. By focusing on this artefact in boundary-crossing situations, we identify and elaborate the nature of the techno-mathematical knowledge required for effective communication between different communities in one financial services workplace, and suggest the implications of our findings for workplaces more generally.

Type: Article
Title: Characterizing the use of mathematical knowledge in boundary crossing situations at work
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Kent, Phillip and Noss, Richard and Guile, David and Hoyles, Celia and Bakker, Arthur (2007) Characterizing the use of mathematical knowledge in boundary crossing situations at work. Mind, Culture and Activity, 14 (1&2). pp. 64-82. Mind, Culture and Activity is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/10749030701307747
Keywords: Workplace
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10001301
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