Connecting people and ideas: Making sense of a research lab through creating a shared frame

Sheri Sheppard, Tua Björklund, Helen Chen, Shannon Gilmartin, Sara Atwood, Eric Reynolds Brubaker, KJ Chew, Philipp Christov, Catie Cuan, Patrick Danner, Barbara Karanian, Abisola Kusimo, Leif Luehmann, Vikas Maturi, Chieloka Mbaezue, Fabian Schäfer, Christian Schnell, George Toye, Marsie Trego

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review


This paper looks at the culture of an academic research lab. Our aim is to internally reflect on how the connections between ideas and individuals can be noticed and labeled in order to create a shared cultural frame. We use a case-study approach with a sensemaking lens using the Markus-Conner Culture Cycle as an underlying model. Following a sensemaking process, a series of individual and small team reflection exercises served as our data source. Graphical and narrative exercises illustrated several of the connections within the Culture Cycle. Analysis of these exercises made visible the individual interests and values in research, articulated a shared institutional mission with parallel individual narratives, and connected key ideas that the lab brings together as a shared frame for a lab research agenda with collective elaboration. While the particulars of this case study are specific to Stanford University’s Designing Education Lab, we invite and challenge any academic lab to increase the transparency of their culture and leverage the interconnections among individuals, interactions, institutions, and ideas in order to inform and educate future researchers and expand knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventClive L. Dym Mudd Design Workshop - Claremont, United States
Duration: 30 May 20191 Jun 2019
Conference number: 11


  • culture
  • reflection
  • organisational values
  • mission
  • inclusion
  • bias

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