EDUP106 Phase 3 B1

Task B1

This module sits within a wider programme seek to develop critical engagement with professional education and learning. Themes run through the whole course and specific emphasis is placed within different modules on particular aspects of learning. The below reading covers several different important ideas that are relevant across many of the course modules and has particular relevance to the subject matter within this module in that it provides a conceptual connection between workplace learning and practice.

Read: (on laptop)

Hager, P. (2011) Chapter 2: Theories of Workplace Learning. In: M. Malloch, L.Cairns, K.Evans and B. O’Conner (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Workplace Learning. London: Sage.


Some challenges to traditional learning theories

  1. Is the individual really the appropriate unit of analysis?
  2. Is learning really a product or ‘thing’?
  3. Can learning really occur independent of specific context?
    • Can you really have generic skills?
    • context can influence process but doesn’t influence content

Psychological theories

p18: most work is not minutely codifiable or predictable as required by theory

workplace learning theories

p20: Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986) developed a well-known seven stage model of skill acquisition / the role of informal experiential learning becomes increasingly important in the later stages / experts engaging in practice are very likely to learn (even if the learning is not the primary purpose) / the Dreyfus model is focused on individuals as learners.

p20: Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) model of knowledge creation / critiques by Bereiter (2002) as not significantly different to Dreyfus stages

Socio-cultural theories (p23ff)

[these] challenge the idea that learning has to be exclusively either individual or social / learning is a process not a product / learning and performance are significantly shaped by social, organizational, cultural and other contextual factors

social theories

Lave and Wenger (1991) offered workplaces as ‘communities of practice’

Engestrom (1999, 2001) offers cultural-historical activity theory = learning occurs as work proceeds within activity systems (rules, division of labour, etc)

Fuller and Unwin (2003, 2004) offer the expansive-restrictive continuum

Postmodern theories

Workplace learning as emergent – an ongoing process, not fully decidable in advance

Metaphors of engagement, (re)construction, emergence

Examples include:

  • complexity theory
  • actor network theory

This chapter provides some very interesting critique on theories of workplace learning. What challenges did this piece present to you and your beliefs surrounding workplace learning? Make some notes in your journal for discussion at the next seminar day.

Some challenges to traditional learning theories

  1. Is the individual really the appropriate unit of analysis? This text offers theories that suggest learning is a social thing and cannot be done in isolation
  2. Is learning really a product or ‘thing’? It is offered that learning is more a process than a product.
  3. Can learning really occur independent of specific context?
    • Can you really have generic skills?
    • context can influence process but doesn’t influence content
  4. Can learning be emergent, that is non-prescribed? This suggests that as teachers we cannot plan all learning. Is this different to ‘tangent learning’ or ‘unintended learning’?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s