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Characterizing the Use of Mathematical Knowledge in Boundary-Crossing Situations at Work

Kent, P; Noss, R; Guile, D; Hoyles, C; Bakker, A; (2007) Characterizing the Use of Mathematical Knowledge in Boundary-Crossing Situations at Work. Mind, Culture, and Activity , 14 (1-2) pp. 64-82. 10.1080/10749030701307747. Green open access

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Abstract

The first aim of this article is to present a characterization of the 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. 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 artifact, the annual pension statement. This statement is designed to facilitate boundary crossing between company and customers. Our study shows 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 artifact in boundary-crossing situations, we identify and elaborate the nature of the techno-mathematical knowledge required for effective communication between different communities in the pensions company, 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
DOI: 10.1080/10749030701307747
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1515661
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