Epistemological agency: a necessary action-in-context perspective on new employee workplace learning
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This paper discusses research premised on the view that new employees' necessary learning actions may be said to constitute a sociocultural constructivist epistemology of necessity. It examines the work and learning activities of three new employees during their first months at a wholesale fruit and vegetable company. It proposes that what new employees must 'do', is engage in a range of working and learning activities, epistemic actions, that may be conceptualised as their exercising epistemological agency. That is, they are necessarily engaged in the practice of personally managing the diversity of factors that mediate their construction of knowledge. In doing so, they control the social suggestion of their workplace within their need to learn what is necessary for work. The paper further suggests these mediating factors constitute a workplace learning agenda that comprises the priorities of the new employees' actions at work. This agenda is identified across five interrelated action sets. These sets emerge from data analysis as major mediators of the new employees' learning. Additionally, it suggests that change in this agenda may indicate what learning is being undertaken and how the development of workplace intersubjectivities or shared understandings, may subsequently occur. These suggestions place new emphasis on the individual in determining their contribution to the social nature of learning. They begin to more fully account for the personal purpose and consequence of learning at work.
Studies in Continuing Education
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