Beyond description: in search of disciplinary digital capabilities through signature pedagogies

Keywords: digital capabilities, digital literacies, disciplines, curriculum design, signature pedagogies, professional learning, engineering, management, higher education


The development of digital capabilities has received significant attention in higher education (HE) in recent years, with various attempts made to develop digital frameworks to support curriculum design. However, few studies have articulated these generic capabilities in terms of specific disciplines. This paper addresses the gap by exploring how digital capabilities are planned in HE curricula in two professional disciplines, engineering and management, at the two UK universities. Originality of the study is achieved in part through a newly proposed conceptual framework that weaves Shulman’s notion of signature pedagogies together with Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)’s Digital Capability Framework (DigiCap). This study employed a multiple-case study methodology, drawing on documentary sources and academic, professional and student perspectives via interviews and focus groups. This study offers insight into the digital capabilities in engineering and management education, as well as the digital practices of engineers and managers. Findings report on which DigiCap elements are prioritised, and how, in the two professions, followed by a discussion of their most distinct ‘signature digital capabilities’. These indicate that the development of digital capabilities is aligned with the respective discipline’s signature pedagogies. This study argues that, simply just using a descriptive, typological framework is not sufficient to identify signature digital capabilities of a subject without tending to their disciplinary aspects. It is the combination of a typological DigiCap framework through the lens of signature pedagogies, which can be effective in identifying disciplinary digital capabilities. This approach is one of the major outcomes of this study.


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How to Cite
Varga-AtkinsT. (2020). Beyond description: in search of disciplinary digital capabilities through signature pedagogies. Research in Learning Technology, 28.
Original Research Articles