STEM Language can be the Stem of the Problem
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2018 IEEE. Engineering collaboration requires successful interdisciplinary communication between professionals who have highly specialized, content specific vocabularies. STEM language research has shown that people encounter barriers to communication due to different understandings of particular words. Additionally, linguistics research has shown that confusion over specific words can be due to many causes such as alternate meanings or senses associated with that word. However, very little research has studied interdisciplinary task collaboration within a linguistics-based framework. This study identified and categorized patterns of words and phrases that caused confusion during an engineering task at a STEM summer camp for secondary teachers. The results demonstrated that confusion over meanings of words inhibited the participants' progress toward completing the task. When two participants had a common or shared vocabulary, they were able to negotiate meaning, resulting in greater success on the task.