Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Discourses on Professional Learning: On the boundary of learning and work - chapter summaries

Discourses on Professional Learning: On the boundary between learning and working.
Edited by C. Harteis, A. Rausch and J. Seifried (2014) and published by Springer. Hardcopy in CPIT library.

The book has introductory and concluding chapters, 15 chapters collected into 3 parts. Below, summaries of chapters relevant to my current work and research.

Introduction by the editors
Part 1 – Analytical perspectives – learning in work context - has 6 chapters.

Chapter 2 – Agentic behaviour at work: crafting learning experiences by M. Goller and S. Billett. This chapter provides a rare critique to the ‘deliberate practice’ concept. Work is held to be complex, contextualised to individual workplaces, open to distinct socio-cultural and socio-material challenges and reliant on individual’s intrinsic motivation. Precepts of deliberate practice have been derived from studies of expertise founded in narrowly prescribed fields (i.e playing chess, sports, music) comprising small number of well-defined activities. Whereas all work is undertaken in difficult to define environments, structured to allow for organisational objectives (i.e. same occupation but different focuses – e.g. chef in hospital, cafĂ©, fine-dining restaurant, fast foot etc.). Individual’s agency is held to be significant in how workplace learning progresses.

Chapter 5 with S. Billett on the topic ‘mediating learning at work: personal mediations of social and brute factors. As with chapter 2, the emphasis is on individuals being agentic in their approaches to workplace learning. Important to focus on socio-cultural and socio-material (the inter-psychological processes) but and how individuals learning (the intra-psychological processes). However, it is the ways in which inter and intra psychological processes inter-relate that are important. In particular, how individuals deploy intra-psychological processes to deal with the world around them.

Chapter 6 on ‘error climate and how individuals deal with errors in the workplace’ by A. Baumgartner and J. Seifried. An interesting study with apprentices in the hotel and restaurant industry. The importance of ‘error climate’ is introduced to explain how in some circumstances, learning through making mistakes can be useful contributors to workplace learning, and how in other workplaces, making mistakes is unsupported and thus seen to be impediments to progress. So, the workplace and worker attitudes to error are contributing factors.

Chapter 7 by T. Schley and M van Woerkom on ‘reflection and reflective behaviour in work teams’. Extends on understandings about the role of reflection in learning. Much based on intra-psychological / individual as reflector model. However, just as important to view reflection and reflective approaches in team-based work teams. Little research on how teams contribute to organisational improvement through work team reflection so proposes need to carry out more detailed studies.

Part 2 covers – analytical perspectives – work as learning environment – has 6 chapters

Chapter 9 contributed by M. Tyler, S. Choy, R. Smith and D. Dymock discusses ‘learning in response to workplace change’. Based on large study based in 4 occupations. Found workers tended to concentrate on work tasks changes rather than on organisational strategic directions. Workers tended to concentrate on maintaining their immediate employability skills. Therefore, workplace change needs to be focused on helping workers gain skills they perceive as contributing to their professional development to complete their current jobs well.

Chapter 12 – ‘developing medical capacities and dispositions through practice-based experiences’ with J. Cleland, J. Leaman and S. Billett. Goals and objectives of workplace learning for new medical staff identified as – identification / confirmation of individual’s fit within the medical specialities; learning skills to perform as medical staff; and continue to develop as medical staff through their occupational lives.

Chapter 13 – ‘ ePortfolio: A practical tool for self-directed, reflective and collaborative professional learning’  by A. L. Daunert & L. Price provides a guide to the different ways eportfolios may be used in professional learning and development contexts. Introduces the concept of eportfolio and undertakes a review of reported advantages /positive impacts  and the reverse on challenges of eportfolios. Also provides guidelines on linking eportfolios to professional development plans based on adapted ADDIE (analyse, design, develop, implement, evaluate).

Part 3 covers methodological issues

Chapter 15 on ‘social network analyses (SNA) of learning at workplaces’ by T. Palonen and K. Hakkarainen. Provides rationale for and introduces the precepts of social network analysis as a way to study ‘socially distributed expertise’. SNA is used to find out how individuals, their groups / sub-groups relate to each other. How people interrelate to each other is a focus in organisational management studies using SNA. SNA also useful in other fields for studying spread of disease, diffusion of information, animal social organisations etc. Future potentials and limitations of SNA are discussed.

Chapter 16 with L. Filliettaz on ‘learning through interactional participatory configuration: contributions from video analysis'. Introduces the frameworks and rationale for using video analysis of workplace practice. Two items discussed in the article – video useful in exploring and making sense of interpersonal relationships in learning / workplace situations; and promoting video as a viable method for research studies into professional practice.

Chapter 17 by A. Rausch on ‘using diaries in research on work and learning’. Rationale for using diaries to record workplace learning presented and discussed. The various ways to deploy diary-based studies (diaries as research instruments) can be deployed are also presented – work task diaries, social interaction diaries, problem diaries, and interruption diaries. A comprehensive chapter on with how to, why, when etc. for the use of diarie.

Conclusion drawn by S. Billett with discussion on ‘interdependence on the boundaries between working and learning’.

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